The unseasonably heavy rains that affected the Mount Airy area during the second half of May caused serious damage to the athletic facilities at Mount Airy High School.
“We had two incidents where the athletic facilities were flooded, the first one on May 18 and the second one yesterday (Thursday), both around 4 p.m.,” said Jason Dorsett, the Chief Operating Officer for the Mount Airy City Schools.
According to Dorsett, the problems arose following the heavy rainfall that came down during those days. During the course of the day on May 18, the National Weather Service reported that nearly one inch of rain fell at the Mount Airy/Surry County Airport in a 24-hour period. Additional heavy rains were reported last week, at a time when the local water systems still hadn’t fully recovered from the first period of unseasonable rainfall. On both occasions, the same problem arose in the facilities at the MAHS athletic complex.
“Excessive rainfall caused the city sewer system to be backed up,” said Dorsett. “Raw sewage came up through the system and flooded several areas, including the main fieldhouse, concessions, the restrooms, and the baseball concessions and rest areas. They have all had to be professionally cleaned.”
Even though Mount Airy High School has had its sports fields and facilities in that area for a very long time, no one that Dorsett spoke to was able to recall anything of this nature happening in the past.
“I have asked around, and I know this has not occurred at any time in the last 25 years,” he said. “For it to happen two times in two weeks has us concerned.”
Dorsett said that the flooding had ruined some carpeting and furniture in the fieldhouses, as well as some equipment that had been sitting on the floors. Several of the coaches’ offices in the fieldhouse also had couches in place that suffered flood damage and will have to be replaced.
Following the first flooding incident on May 18, the damaged and contaminated items were removed and the facilities professionally cleaned. Although the sports seasons at Mount Airy High School are completed and the school is about to close for the summer, many student-athletes use the fieldhouse and other facilities for off-season workouts. They had been able to return for less than a week when the second flooding incident occurred and shut everything down again.
In addition, Mount Airy High will be hosting commencement exercises at Wallace Shelton Stadium on Saturday, June 9, and the use of the sports buildings is necessary in order to hold graduation at the stadium.
Because of the pending graduation and the need for students to use the facilities during the summer, it is imperative that the facilities be cleaned a second time, and that city officials find out what is causing the sewage back-ups there and prevent any more recurrences. Both goals are being worked on.
“On Monday, a cleaning service is coming and and will make sure that the facilities are safe to use again,” Dorsett said. “It’s important for our student-athletes and for all of the buildings to be available for graduation on Saturday.”
Dorsett said that Mount Airy Public Works Director Jeff Boyles has been working with MACS Maintenance Coordinator Bryan Cox and his staff to find the cause of the problem and ensure there is no recurrence. The weight room should be re-opened for student-athletes in less than a week’s time.
“We believe the worst is behind us,” Dorsett said. “We are confident we will find a solution and everything will be ready for graduation. The kids are missing the weight room and we are working hard to get it open for them.
“Bryan and his staff have taken a leading role in getting this process moved along.”
Dorsett said that the school system couldn’t provide a monetary estimate on the damages and the cost of the clean-up at this time, because the efforts are still ongoing.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.