Monsoon microburst damages school in Ahwatukee

Monsoon microburst damages school in Ahwatukee

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Fierce winds from a microburst bloew down trees and damaged the shade structure for the main playground at St. John Bosco School. The roof of several buildings also sustained damage. (J.D. Long-García/CATHOLIC SUN)

Fierce winds from a microburst July 15 blew down trees and damaged the shade structure for the main playground at St. John Bosco School. The roof of several buildings also sustained damage. (J.D. Long-García/CATHOLIC SUN)

St. John Bosco School did not escape injury from Monday’s microburst that hit the Ahwatukee area. Despite the damage, the Extended Student Program, a sort of daycare which runs throughout the summer, and various educational camps will not be affected.

The microburst hit shortly before 5 p.m. July 15. St. John Bosco sits south of Chandler Boulevard on 48th Street, in the heart of the reported three-mile diameter that experienced damage.

Kim Silver, the new principal, was still in the administration building when the storm hit. Two staff members had a small number of students in the multipurpose room across the walkway for the school’s summer daycare program.

“We were captive once it started,” Silver said.

She estimated about a foot of visibility. The National Weather Service reported pea- to marble-sized hail with 45-55 miles per hour thunderstorm wind gusts nearly halfway between the school and Corpus Christi Parish at 35th Street north of Ray Road.

Silver stayed on the phone with staff in the multipurpose center throughout the 30-40-minute ordeal. Venturing over there was not an option.

Fierce winds, at least 60 miles per hour, pushed rain in through the doorframe of the administration building. Classrooms are usable, but some carpet had to be dried out by fan, especially in the two pre-kindergarten rooms and parts of the administration building that faces south. Drying out the inside is the least of her worries before school resumes Aug. 21.

“The roof is our biggest issue,” said Silver, who has been associated with St. John Bosco since 2001.

Water got in under a barrier around the edges of the roof creating bubbles in the surface. Roofers are due out next week to formally assess an action plan. Silver said Catholic Mutual has already visited St. John Bosco twice.

Fallen trees — both old and new — left more visible remains of the storm’s wrath at St. John Bosco, St. Benedict Parish next door and throughout Ahwatukee. School administrators are calculating it as only “significant tree loss.”

Some of the trees reportedly snapped like toothpicks. Others were uprooted, but Silver is hopeful some can be saved. Students helped plant 70 trees three-and-a-half years ago as a cooperative effort with the Arbor Day Foundation and The Home Depot Foundation.

The school also lost the shade structure for its primary playground. Silver described it as inverted and possibly unstable. The marquee out front has damage to its metal framework, enough that the once stationary sign now pivots.

Fortunately, students scheduled to arrive next week for K-Kamp and LEGO Camp already know how to get to school.

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