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A clogged drain caused water to collect on the roof of St. Mary's. The weight of the collected water eventually tore a hole in the roof and collapsed about at 15 by 25 foot section of the roof, which funneled the collected water into the building. (Submitted Photo)

Water floods St. Mary's Catholic School building

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News Morris,Minnesota 56267 http://www.morrissuntribune.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/19/0701/070514.n.mst.stmarys-hole.jpg?itok=42EG1jMJ
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Water floods St. Mary's Catholic School building
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

MORRIS – Crews are working to start drying out the St. Mary’s Catholic School building after around 157,000 gallons of water flooded the building over the weekend, causing significant damage to all levels of the school.

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The water – weighing an estimated 1.3 million pounds – collected on the roof of the building because a drain was plugged by an empty wine bottle.

The weight of the collected water eventually tore a hole in the roof and collapsed about at 15 by 25 foot section of the roof, which funneled the collected water into the building, Father Todd Schneider said.

“The water came into the upper floor and just exploded into the upper classrooms and down the stairwell,” said Schneider.

The water continued to flow down the stairs, filling the first floor and flooding the basement. Standing water on the upper floors eventually started to seep through the floor and ceiling tiles. Every room in the school was flooded with between two and four feet of water.

In addition to structural damage, the water also damaged materials, electronics and furniture – “very significant damage to the whole building.”

The damage was discovered early Saturday morning by a group of men who gather at Assumption Catholic Church for a prayer group. The group noticed water in the church basement and soon realized it was coming from the tunnel that connects the church to St. Mary’s. When staff at St. Mary’s arrived to look into the source of the water, they discovered the damage, Schneider said.

By Saturday afternoon, crews with ServiceMaster Clean arrived to help cleaning up the building. Crews estimated it would take a few weeks to empty out the building and get it dried out, Schneider said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, all of the standing water had been removed and crews were working to keep drying out the building.

“Major repair work is being done – it’s going to take some time but we’re hoping we’ll get it all done for the school year,” said Schneider. “There’s no promises being made, of course, because the amount of damage is still being assessed.”

Schneider also thanked the community for support throughout the week.

“We have a lot of good people here in our community and thank everyone for their prayers and concerns,” said Schneider. “We’ll be trying to keep our community informed about how things are unfolding and how work is going.”

Updated information about the collapse and clean up efforts are being shared online at http://stmarysmorris.com/roof/.

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Kim Ukura
Kim Ukura has served as the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune since August 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 2008 with degrees in English and journalism. She earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2010. Prior to returning to Morris to work at the Sun Tribune, she worked in trade publishing. She has been recognized by the Minnesota Newspaper Association for both business and public affairs reporting. 
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