Dubois and intermediate school endure flooding

Candy Neal/The Herald
The hallway near near Northeast Dubois Intermediate School’s multipurpose room was still wet on Tuesday from Monday’s floodwaters. Students will not return to the school building until next week.


DUBOIS — The community of Dubois endured extreme flooding Monday evening after a downpour of rain covered the streets.

In that downpour, the Northeast Dubois Intermediate School was heavily damaged.

“The silver lining is that no one was injured,” Northeast Dubois Superintendent Bill Hochgesang said Tuesday, “whether it was during the storm, or even during the cleanup. All things are going safely.”

The rain started around 5 p.m. ad continued as a heavy downpour for a few hours. Dubois Volunteer Fire Department firefighters were first on the scene and saw that the community’s main drag and surrounding streets in the community were completely flooded.

“It was concentrated in the town of Dubois,” Dubois Fire Chief Steve Kalb said Tuesday. “I’ve not heard of anything outside of Dubois.”

“You couldn’t get into town anywhere if you weren’t already here,” Hochgesang said. “There was extensive flooding all around town where you couldn't travel.”

Candy Neal/The Herald
Brown lines on the wall in a lobby area at Northeast Dubois Intermediate School show how high the floodwaters reached on the school’s main floor. The basement beneath was completely full of water Monday evening.

Videos and photos were shared on social media by Dubois residents, showing water running down the streets.

“We waited for a couple of hours and the water went off the streets,” Kalb said. “Basically, it rained so hard that none of the ditches and sewers and lines could handle it at one time. So it just took a couple hours for it to drain down and off the streets.”

Floodwaters got into the intermediate school and filled the basement, reaching to the first floor. Hochgesang estimated 11 feet of water was in the school.

“There was extensive damage in the whole lower part, which has a basement underneath the gym,” he said. “We don't have a lot of our educational programs down there. But we do have some of our our specials or our extracurricular things that take place down there."

Photo by Bill Hochgesang
Floodwaters fill the basement at Northeast Dubois Intermediate School Monday evening.

The basement, which is about 8 feet tall at its lowest point, was full.

“The water was probably two to three feet above that,” Hochgesang said. “So we dealt with about 11 feet of water last night, by the time it all came through there.”

Water was pouring out of the building through the main hallway that is near the school’s multipurpose room, which is the cafeteria and kitchen area. “That probably received the highest-value damage,” Hochegesang said about the cafeteria/kitchen area. “Our kitchen was in two feet of water. That floated things and tore things up.”

Firefighters stayed on the scene until the rain stopped and waters started receding.

“It's all open now, but you can definitely see the aftermath,” Kalb said, “culverts, ditches, some asphalt ripped up. No roads are closed. But water just ramped it up a little bit here and there.”

Dubois Fire, Dubois Water Utiilities and Patoka Lake Regional Water and Sewer District brought in pumpers to pump the water out of the school after the rain had stopped.

“They pumped the water down to about six inches, and the drains handled it from there,” Hochgesang said. “There is mud and debris everywhere that will have to be cleaned.”

All Northeast students were switched to e-learning for Tuesday, thus staying home and participating in their classes online.

The intermediate school is the phone and internet hub for Northeast Dubois Elementary School and the school corporation office. Because of the flooding, all of the electricity and water systems at the intermediate school were shut off.

“So we had no phones or internet at any of those three buildings,” Hochgesang explained. “We still do at the junior-senior high. But we kept this available for our teachers to come in and teach from using the internet (e-learning).”

Photo by Bill Hochgesang
Floodwaters surround Northeast Dubois Intermediate School Monday evening.

The electricity in the upper part of the intermediate school building was restored Tuesday afternoon. So that restored the phones and internet. Therefore, students at the junior-senior high and elementary school will return to their classrooms Wednesday. Intermediate school students will continue with e-learning for the rest of this week.

The electricity for the bottom half of the school still needs to be restored, the building’s structure is still being checked and the halls and rooms that endured floodwaters need to be cleaned.

“So our goal is to have everybody back by Tuesday,” Hochgesang said,

An engineer was checking the building Tuesday to make sure it is structurally sound. And an insurance adjuster checked the extent of damages to the facility. Hochgesang believes there will be a lot of repairs needed.

“There is extensive damage to our kitchen. That could be a couple hundred thousand (dollars),” he said. “We will probably have to replace the flooring, carpeting, other things that were in storage or that we had in the basement.”

Hochgesang expressed thanks to the volunteers that helped during and after the flood event, including the Dubois Volunteer Fire Department , Dubois Water Utilities, Patoka Lake Regional Water and Sewer, Dubois REC and One Moore Bar & Grill, which supplied volunteers with food and water while they worked Monday evening.

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