KENT CITY, Mich. (WOOD) — Students returned to Kent City High School Monday, but not to the gym and wrestling room after roofing over the those sections of the school was ripped off by a fast-moving thunderstorm late Saturday afternoon.
Despite the damage, school officials didn’t have to cancel classes at the high school on the first day back from spring break. It was business as usual Monday, though the constant drip of water onto the gymnasium floor could be heard.
Principal Bill Crane got the call abut the damage after 5 p.m. Saturday. While it sounded bad on the phone, it looked even worse when he arrived.
“I didn’t realize … the roof would be hanging over the side there,” Crane said, referring to the side of the building. “The report we had from the people across the street is that it looked like a big parachute, like a game they play in the elementary. It started waving and then it took it right off.”
The wind came through sometime between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, peeling back a large section of the rubber membrane that covers the gym and other sections of the school. Weather experts say the evidence points to straightline winds as the culprit.
Monday, ceiling tiles that remained above the gym were waterlogged from the heavy rains. The floor below was ruined.
The gym wasn’t the only casualty. In another section of the school, the roof over a room used for wrestling and several other sports teams is also gone.
“We would have had our softball, our baseball team in here,” Crane said.
School officials say one thing they had on their side was timing. Had the storm happened 48 hours later, and the school would have been filled with students.
The damage will be expensive to fix, but school officials says the human costs could have been much higher.
“If we top a million dollars, so be it,” Crane said. “But we didn’t have a single person that was hurt or injured or anything like that.”
The challenge now, Crane said, is getting the gym repaired in time for graduation on June 1.