2017-07-13 / Front Page

Flood waters forced Saginaw ISD to move out ahead of schedule

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

Saginaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Dr. Kathy Stewart breathes a sigh of relief after the office had to be relocated due to flooding. She commended the staff on how professionally they handled the situation. 
Photo by Jeanne Marcello Saginaw Intermediate School District Superintendent Dr. Kathy Stewart breathes a sigh of relief after the office had to be relocated due to flooding. She commended the staff on how professionally they handled the situation. Photo by Jeanne Marcello SAGINAW COUNTY – The Saginaw Intermediate School District (SISD) office has relocated to its new location at the Saginaw Transitions Center, 3933 Barnard St., just south of McCarty Rd. There’s no sign out front yet, but it’s better than staying in a flooded building.

SISD Superintendent Dr. Kathy Stewart explained that during the weekend of June 24 and 25, the Tittabawassee River flooded its banks, filling the lower level of the Gratiot Road SISD administrative office with three feet of water. The flooding made it necessary to evacuate the entire office and make an impromptu move.

As the flood waters rose, staff monitored the situation. They were told that the river would crest on Saturday. As the Tittabawassee River continued to rise and even with a protective berm in the back of the property, the SISD’s technology team not to take any chances and moved all of the technology equipment out of the lower level of the building. Stewart said, “Our backup servers were on that lower level. They relocated the servers just hours before the lower level flooded.”

As flood waters entered the building Saturday evening, the staff took action and had Consumers Energy cut the power to the building as a safety precaution.

Staff returned to the office on Sunday to assess the situation and discovered three feet of water in the lower level. With no power and a flooded building, it was time to take quick action in order to continue to conduct Saginaw ISD business.

Many of the employees showed up on Sunday to help pull as many tables out of the building as they could find. Those were moved to the new office and arranged into temporary office work stations.

Stewart said, “On Monday, June 26, SISD team members came to the RESC building with flashlights and headlamps. They picked up their computers, telephones and whatever they needed to continue working. In less than a half day, we were back up and running. People were already hard at work by 10 a.m.”

Human Resources Director Scott Sawyer said staff met at the RESC at 7 a.m. to get an early start that day.

Stewart said, “It’s hard to imagine. Everyone was very professional, very understanding. While our move was expected to take four to six weeks, we moved in three hours. That’s just everyone pulling together and helping out.”

Sawyer said, “It’s really remarkable because it’s a very busy time, with lots of financial reports due. It’s ordinarily stressful. People took it with a pretty good sense of humor; most of the time.”

Stewart explained that they had been planning the move to the Saginaw Transitions Building for quite some time. Around spring of 2014, they started analyzing their needs and evaluating the space available at the other locations. The heating and cooling system hadn’t been working efficiently in the Gratiot Road office building; and in some areas of the building it wasn’t working at all.

“We wanted to be good stewards of the state, local and federal revenues that support us,” Stewart said.

The SISD owns multiple buildings in Saginaw County: the Millet Learning on Center on Southfield Drive; the Saginaw Transitions Center on Fashion Square Boulevard; and the Regional Education Service Center (RESC) on Gratiot (M-46) at Midland Road (M-47); Hartley Outdoor Education Center, on Beaver Road in St. Charles; and Brunkow Elementary on south 24th Street in Saginaw.

“Through our study in the fall of 2015, we identified space that could be repurposed,” Stewart said. The SISD contracted with architect TowerPinkster of Kalamazoo and Wolgast Construction of Saginaw to design and oversee construction at the new location. Seven large classrooms and a multipurpose room in the Saginaw Transitions Center were turned into office space for the SISD. Other programs previously located at the RESC will relocate to the Millet Learning Center.

Stewart said, “With the rainstorm, we had water from neighboring counties. We haven’t been identified as one of the flood areas. We were very fortunate. I have no idea of the extent of flood damage in our county.”

Sawyer said, “A lot of homes flooded.”

The Gratiot Road chalet style building went up for bid earlier this year. Only one bid was received by the June 29 deadline. The SISD was scheduled to take action and vote on whether to accept the bid during the July 12 meeting (as the Township View went to press). The bidder has until July 27 to decide what to do, considering the recent flood.

“It’s five acres of prime real estate. I was told over 90,000 vehicles pass by that intersection [Gratiot (M-46) and Midland Road (M-47) weekly,” Stewart said. The last time this building flooded was in 1986; and afterwards the SISD had a berm built to prevent flooding in the future, Stewart said.

Stewart said, “We’re still assessing our losses. Servpro has been in cleaning and assessing the damage. We haven’t received a full listing of lost equipment, supplies and property damage yet,” Dr. Stewart said.

The SISD is retaining the same office phone number (989) 249-8700.

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