Friday, June 20, 2008

Work (and Progress) Continues @ North

What a difference a week can make. Last Friday, power was cut to North High and the neighborhood was evacuated. On Saturday, the school building was surrounded by water when a nearby levee broke. On Tuesday, DMPS staff was finally able to gain access to begin cleaning and repairing the building. And today, work is well underway - both inside and out - to make sure North High is better than ever when school starts in August.

A visit to North High today found steady progress has been made over the past few days. All water has been removed from the basement level of the building and it is ready for cleaning. The auditorium, which was the only part of the school building itself to take on water, has had carpet and drapes damaged by the flood removed and extensive cleaning and ventilating is underway. Large fans have been placed throughout the building to improve ventilation. Outside, DMPS staff is working on the baseball and softball fields to clean the infields and outfields. And, with 6th Avenue now open, the football field is being irrigated while damage is being assessed to the concession, locker room and equipment facilities.

A few photos from today's visit are posted below, and more than 40 others can be viewed at the DMPS photo library here.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: North High is asking for volunteers to join them next Saturday, June 28 at 9:00 am to help with the cleanup process at Grubb Community Stadium. More details will be posted soon.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

UPDATE on FEMA Center at Harding Middle School

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will have a recovery center for flood victims located at Harding Middle School gymnasium. The center will be open TODAY until 3:30 pm.

Starting on Friday, DMPS has been informed that the center will be open Monday-Friday from 7:00 am to 4:30 pm and from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm on the weekends until further notice.

Harding Middle School is located at 203 E. Euclid Avenue.

For more information on FEMA, click on their logo:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More Progress @ North High

The DMPS facility staff reports continued progress at North High, going so far as to say that things are in "better shape" than what was anticipated when work began at the school yesterday.

Some of the progress made today includes:
  • All water has been pumped out from beneath the building with the exception of some small puddles.
  • Large fans will begin ventilating the basement of the school building tomorrow.
  • Electrical power is back on at the building.
  • All systems, such as telephones and computer networks, are fully operational.
  • Additional ventilating equipment will be placed in the school building tomorrow.
  • The school district's environmental consultant visited the school today to begin the air quality testing process.
  • A dehumidifier is placed in the library to protect the books from the current high humidity levels.
  • Additional cleanup is being done to the parking lots and sidewalks around the school.
  • Work may be underway as soon as this week on the lawns, athletic fields and other areas of the North High campus.

FEMA Center at Harding Middle School

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will have a center at Harding Middle School (203 E. Euclid) to help flood victims seeking federal assistance. The FEMA center will begin on Thursday, June 19 and be open in the school gymnasium from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm until further notice.

For more information on FEMA, click on their logo below.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More Video of North High from and

DMPS opened the doors of North High to the news media today, so that everyone in the community concerned about the condition and future of one of Des Moines' high schools could get a good look at the limited damage caused by flooding.

Click here to view a report by KCCI-TV's Steve Karlin.

And click here to view a report by WHO-TV's Dave Price.

Video of North High from

Photos from North High

We have made several photos from today's visit back into North High available online. To view them, please visit the DMPS Flickr site here.

North High Progress Report!

DMPS staff members were feeling much better this morning as they were able to access North High School. A team of workers began assessing any damage and the clean-up process is already underway. This is the first time anyone from the school district has been at the school since a brief visit on Sunday morning, and there is some good news.

Water in the building following Saturday's early morning levee break was limited to two areas: the basement/tunnel space beneath the school building and the stage end of the auditorium. It appeared that there was about 22 inches of water at the peak level in the auditorium. Pumps began removing water from underneath the school and the level has been reduced several inches over the past few hours.

Water has moved off the parking lot and baseball/softball fields, and cleanup has already begun in those areas. The only part of the campus that DMPS staff has not been able to access is the football stadium, however, water appears to no longer be on the field.

The immediate priorities are to remove water from under the building, begin cleaning and sanitizing the school, and conduct air quality tests to make sure that it is a safe, clean environment before school begins on August 21. In addition, district staff are in contact with Iowa State Extension to get their expert advice on caring for the grass lawns and athletic fields at North.

Even though DMPS staff is able to gain access to the building, the following conditions are still in place:
  • All North High office staff should report to Goodrell Middle School until further notice.
  • North custodial staff should report to North.
  • The building is closed to the public until further notice.
In addition, DMPS staff was able to restart an emergency generator at North in order to re-establish phone and network service to four schools and three offices that were cut off by the loss of power at North. All telecommunications service within the district should now be fully operational.
Phone and network connections at DMPS north-side facilities are restored. More news from North to come.
Photos and more details from North to be posted soon.
DMPS staff is at North now. Power is back online thanks to generators. Small amount of water in auditorium. Access remains limited.

Monday, June 16, 2008

North Polar Bears Baseball/Softball Schedule

Flooding at the North High campus won't stop the Polar Bears baseball and softball teams as they both return to action on Tuesday. North High's remaining home games will be played at nearby Grandview College.

To view the Polar Bears' revised schedules, click on the images below:

DMPS Helps Move National Guard

Two DMPS school busses and drivers are currently transporting members of the Iowa National Guard to help with flood efforts in Southeast Iowa. Four other busses and drivers are standing by to transport additional members of the Guard, if needed.

East-to-Hoover Summer School Bus Shuttles

The high school summer program scheduled to begin at East last Thursday will begin at Hoover this Thursday. The change in location was made in order to provide the Des Moines Police Department with temporary office space at East while their headquarters were threatened by flooding.

Because of the change in location, DMPS will provide shuttle bus service for students from East to Hoover. The schedule is as follows:

Pick-up location: North circle drive
Departure for bus #1: 7:10 am
Arrival for bus #1: 7:30 am
Departure for bus #2: 7:25 am
Arrival for bus #2: 7:45 am

Departure for bus #1: 12:15 pm
Arrival for bus #1: 12:35 pm
Departure for bus #2: 12:20 pm
Arrival for bus #2: 12:40 pm
NOTE: In addition, a bus will leave Hoover for East at 2:20 pm following the afternoon driver's education class.

Remember, all Des Moines Public School high school students can ride DART busses for free. If you want to consider this option to get to Hoover High, visit the DART web site for information on routes and schedules.

Share Your Stories

Over the past several days, this web site has been a bulletin board for flood-related information impacting the DMPS community. Now, we'd like to hear from you.

Community Relations is looking for stories of students, teachers, staff, parents and others in the DMPS community affected by the flood. Did students organize a sandbag brigade? Did your PTA help out at a shelter? What did this mean to you?

E-mail your accounts of preparing, evacuating, volunteering, and waiting out the waters here. (Please put "Flood Blog Story" in the subject line.) With your permission, we’ll share your stories in the near future.

Phone Service to North-Side DMPS Facilities

As has been previously reported, the power outage at North High has also disrupted telephone service to other school district facilities. However, DMPS staff has been rerouting phones so that the primary number at each school and office is accessible.

If you need to reach any of the schools or offices impacted by the power outage at North, please call the following phone numbers:

DMPS Schools
Findley Elementary School: 242-8407
Harding Middle School: 242-8445
Moulton Extended Learning Center: 242-8427
North High School: 242-7200 (all North numbers are forwarded to Goodrell Middle School)
Oak Park Elementary School: 242-8428

DMPS Offices
Central Nutrition Center: 242-7636
Facilities Management: 242-7706
Head Start: 242-7588
Welcome Center: 242-8102

Because phone service is limited you may get voice mail. Please leave a message and someone will return your call as soon as possible.

Once we get regular access to North High and are able to start an emergency generator, telecommunications should return to normal at these schools and offices.

Harding and Hoyt Summer School Update

The summer school programs at Harding and Hoyt middle schools will remain at those locations. Both programs were going to be moved because the schools were to be used as evacuation centers. However, the evacuation center moved from Harding to Callanan on Sunday, and Hoyt was never activated as a shelter.

However, rather than beginning today, summer school classes at Harding and Hoyt will begin tomorrow (Tuesday, June 17).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Update for Sunday, June 15

The following is an update for Sunday afternoon. In general, almost all summer programs and activities in the Des Moines school district will be held as scheduled beginning Monday, June 16 with some exceptions.

This announcement includes those changes that will impact some staff, parents and students.

NORTH HIGH: As reported in the previous post, a brief visit was made to North High earlier this morning. The facility management director for the school district found no signs of flooding on the 1st floor of the school building. We have not been able to inspect lower levels of the building, such as the basement/tunnels or auditorium. At this point we do not expect to be able to return to the building today and do not know when regular access to the building will be allowed.

Other updates pertaining to North High are:

  • North High custodial staff should report to Harding Middle School on Monday.
  • All other North High staff who would normally work on Monday should report to Goodrell Middle School.
  • The main phone number for North High – 242-7200 – will be rerouted so that North staff will be able to answer calls to that number.
  • All activities and events currently scheduled to be held at North High this summer are on hold until further notice; check back for new locations and dates to be announced in the coming days.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS: With power out at North High, telecommunications at 4 schools and 3 district facilities were also interrupted. However, DMPS staff is working this afternoon and tomorrow morning to reroute the main phone numbers at those 7 facilities so there is a limited interruption in service.

SUMMER SCHOOL PROGRAMS: Because some DMPS school buildings have been used as evacuation centers and temporary government offices, certain summer school programs have had the locations changed and start dates delayed:

  • East High School: Summer school classes at East High will now be held at Hoover High and begin on Thursday, June 19. This includes the afternoon session of driver’s education. A shuttle bus will be provided between East and Hoover.
  • Harding Middle School: Summer school classes at Harding Middle School will now be held at Hiatt Middle School and begin on Tuesday, June 17. A shuttle bus will be provided between Harding and Hiatt.
  • Hoyt Middle School: Summer school classes at Hoyt Middle School will now be held at the adjoining Brubaker Elementary School and begin on Tuesday, June 17.

SUMMER MEAL PROGRAM: All summer meal sites will be open on Monday, June 16.

CENTRAL NUTRITION CENTER: The central kitchen moved operations to Goodrell Middle School on Friday but will be moving back to the CNC on Monday.


  • All evacuation centers have been transferred to Callanan Middle School.
  • The Des Moines Police Department continues to make use of East High School.
  • The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority continues to make use of Lincoln High School.
  • DMPS school busses have been standing by this weekend to help transport emergency workers to other parts of Iowa.

North High: No Signs of Flooding on 1st Floor

The school district's facility management director was able to make a brief visit to North High School a little earlier this morning, thanks to the Des Moines Police Department. He reports that there was no sign of flooding on the first floor of the school building.

However, we were not able to inspect lower levels of the building, such as the basement/tunnels or auditorium. In addition, we do not know when regular access to the building will be allowed in order to put services such as telecommunications back online.

DMPS officials will be meeting later today to review the status of our facilities and programs. An update and a reminder of any changes to our summer programs will be released later this afternoon.


See KCCI-TV's story, including video from near North High on Saturday, by clicking here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday Evening Update

As of 6:00 pm this evening, school district officials have not yet received permission to access North High School and examine conditions inside the building. Once access is granted and an initial assessment is made, whether that is yet today or tomorrow, it will be reported.

Both Harding and Callanan Middle Schools remain open as shelters for the mandatory evacuation still in place for the Birdland neighborhood.

A Message from the Superintendent

It was a sad sight this morning to see the impact of the breached levee on the north side of Des Moines and watch as water rose to the walls of North High School. But, we can always repair a school. Our thoughts are first and foremost with the families who live and work in that area, and the impact this has on their lives.

We will be getting into North High as soon as emergency management officials indicate it is safe so that we can assess the damage. I know that everyone in the North family and throughout the community are concerned about this great high school, and we will report what we learn as soon as possible.

I also want to say thanks to all of the school district employees who have been putting in countless hours to respond to this emergency over the past several days. From monitoring our school buildings to working with other government agencies to informing the public to volunteering at sandbag stations, I am proud of the extra effort by so many DMPS employees.

Finally, I appreciate the cooperation of families throughout the district as schedules and programs have had to change. Even though it is summer vacation for many, we still have thousands of students who attend summer classes, preschool, camps, athletic practices, driver's education and other activities in our schools.

We will be constantly assessing the situation this weekend. On Sunday, we will announce any changes to schedules or programs necessary because of this morning's flooding. Please check back here for further updates.

Again, thanks to everyone for their support and extra effort during this time.

Best wishes,

Nancy Sebring
Des Moines Public Schools

KCCI-TV Report on North High

Read KCCI's report on flooding at North High:

Levee Breached Near North High

A levee in the Birdland neighborhood has breached. According to local news reports, it took place around 3:30 am on Saturday morning a couple of blocks west of North High School.

North High is surrounded by water. DMPS does not currently have access to the building as all residents and businesses are being kept out of the flood area. School district officials will take a boat to the school as soon as possible and we will report back the building's status.

Power was cut to North High yesterday afternoon. An emergency generator at the building was maintaining critical services, including telecommunications to 8-10 other school buildings on the north side of Des Moines. However, that generator has not been fueled for several hours and telecommunications services at those buildings will be down. Items were moved from the lowest levels of the school building and equipment was moved from a storage building at the athletic field earlier this week.

The school district's three dump trucks have been on the road all morning helping to deliver sand bags to the berm being built along 2nd Avenue.

Graphic of area from