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Jakeman All-Grade students could be back in Trout River school early next week

Crews work feverishly to rebuild the eroding riverbank behind Jakeman All-Grade School in Trout River in this photo taken Tuesday.
Crews work feverishly to rebuild the eroding riverbank behind Jakeman All-Grade School in Trout River in this photo taken Tuesday. - Submitted

The contingency plan to teach Trout River students somewhere other than Jakeman All-Grade School has been shelved.

The school building was saved thanks to a concentrated effort to rebuild the riverbank at the rear of the school after it began to give way to the town’s flooded river Tuesday.

The school, like many other homes and buildings in low-lying Trout River, was essentially an island when the river overflowed its banks after heavy rain and substantial snowmelt last Saturday.

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Staff working on repairing the school grounds after the water levels had adequately dropped noticed the river was getting dangerously close to the structure itself.

Tony Stack, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District’s director of education and chief executive officer, had been visiting the site and couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“When you opened the gym door and looked out, all you could see was a big river rapidly rushing by,” he said. “It was like being on a vessel. It was a precarious situation.”

The effort was on to rebuild what had been a roughly 40 or 50-foot egress between the school and the river. The Department of Transportation and Works coordinated a succession of dump trucks to deliver armour stone and gravel to fill in the missing riverbank.

The work was continuing as of deadline Thursday, as was the job to remediate the grounds at the front of the school that had been damaged by the initial flood.

An engineering report on the building and the school grounds, said Stack, has indicated that the school may be able to open early next week if the work being done continues as planned.

Stack is hoping to be in a better position to more firmly make that decision later today.

“As always, our first priority is the safety of students and there is no way for a second we would let students back in that building if we didn’t think it was safe,” he said.

Stack added that, as an extra precaution, steel fencing will be erected at the rear of the property to keep people a safe distance from the river bank and snow fencing at the front to keep people away from any hazards.

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