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Flooding leads to closure of two County schools

CARIBOU, Maine — The unyielding cold has contributed to issues at both Caribou High School and Limestone Community School, causing administrators to close both facilities on Monday. 

RSU 39 Superintendent Tim Doak said that while Caribou High School has a wood chip boiler and oil furnace, both are currently out of order.

He said a gasket in the oil furnace let go, which led to flooding in the boiler room at about 6 a.m. Monday morning. Doak said custodians are currently working to repair the wood chip boiler, which has been down for over a week.

“The building is cold,” said Doak. “There is no heat, and that’s why we cancelled school. As soon as the heat is back up, we’ll be ready to go.”

While only Caribou’s boiler room flooded, Limestone Community School saw flooding in the library, six classrooms, and the auditorium due to heating coils that froze and broke.

“Four coils broke on the west wall of the building, where they were directly hit by the cold wind,” Doak said, adding that the east side of the building doesn’t have “any problems at all.”

The superintendent said Limestone’s library was flooded on Saturday and that a crew was able to take care of everything over the weekend. Unfortunately, he said “something happened between midnight and [Monday morning]” to cause more flooding in the school.

As of 11:30 a.m., Doak said Limestone Community School’s heating system was up and running, and that custodians are currently working to “circulate the heat through the building, and to mop up” the flooded rooms.

RSU 39 already has made plans through its insurance company to replace damaged items in Limestone Community School, including rugs, books, and computers.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Caribou High School or Limestone Community School would be open for students Tuesday. Doak said Limestone will “probably not be open for students” and will instead have a “teacher day.”

He said Caribou High School is “dead in the water” if workers are unable to repair the wood chip boiler or oil furnace, adding that he believes this winter’s unusually cold temperatures have played a role in these issues.

“We’ve had 15 straight days of below zero weather,” he said. “I think we might get some reprieve this week but I don’t like the idea of rain coming. I’ve been told that a sudden change in temperature is bad for the pipes. It’s not good.”

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