After a week's worth of cleanup and damage control from the recent atmospheric river storms, Sunol Glen School opened its doors for the first day back from winter break with little to no restrictions on Monday.
Superintendent and principal Molleen Barnes has kept the Sunol community up-to-date on the ongoing restorative actions that have taken place since the heavy rain and wind from the New Year's Eve storm flooded most of the back area.
"The main part of the school is doing phenomenal," Barnes said in a recent update video from Friday. "Luckily the damage that was done by the storm has left our main part of our campus intact. That was really fortuitous, because that allows us to operate school as we know it."
Over the past week-plus, the Tri-Valley has been hit with a barrage of winter storms that have also been affecting all of Northern California.
But the storm on New Year's Eve hit the small school in Sunol the most, as several parts of the school were flooded by the Alameda Creek, which runs adjacent to the campus.
The good news -- the main building with all the classrooms was not damaged.
"All 11 classrooms, once again, are fine," Barnes said in Friday's update video. "There was no moisture found in any of the rooms. We had them surveyed very carefully and so that feels really good."
According to several of Barnes' videos, the creek rose so high above the bank that water entered three of the raised portable classrooms on the north side of campus.
She showed how the force of the water collapsed the fence along the east edge of the grounds and how the flood waters pushed several huge storage containers onto the adjacent playground, settling one against the building.
Debris and a thick layer of mud settled on the blacktop, back playground, garden and fields as a result of the water receding.
Now, a week later, Barnes said that cleanup was going as planned.
"The back area, as we described earlier, is not doing as well, but we have done a lot of work to try to get rid of some of the mud and debris that was just caked onto our blacktop," Barnes said.
She added that they worked on getting that mud off so that the children could use the basketball courts during recess and lunch.
Barnes said that they also tried cleaning up some of the field area so that kids could still use parts of it during their free time.
"We were able to get a small section of the blacktop open and one of the small fields recorded off so that we could use it," Barnes told the Weekly in an emailed statement on Monday. "Both areas are very small, but we are grateful that we have them because the larger areas that we normally use are filled with debris. I need a lot more work before they're usable."
However, she showed how they were also adding fencing along those areas in the north of the school because it's too dangerous for kids to be around the damaged portables and damaged play structures.
"The backfield area at this point is not going to be eligible for students to play on because it's just not safe there at this point," Barnes said.
The art and childcare programs that worked out of those portables in the back have been relocated to classrooms inside the main building and to the cafeteria, Barnes said.
Other main issues that the school had to address before opening was the sewer line, which got the green light on Friday, and pressure washing as much of the mud, silt and debris off of our campus as possible.
"We have a lot of plans in place to continue our programs and make sure education is going forward as always, but there's still some work to be done," Barnes said.
In Monday's emailed statement to the Weekly, Barnes also mentioned that preparations for the future storms are underway.
"We put out quite a few more sandbags and key locations. We made sure the drains were cleared, Barnes said. "We moved the can shipping containers that had been tossed around during the flood on New Year’s Eve, so that they are now in a higher ground area and should not be in the same situation."
Since the news of the school flooding first broke out, the Sunol Glen Community Club created a Storm Flood Recovery Efforts fundraiser for the school on GoFundMe that, as of time of publication, has received over $17,000 to go toward damages.