North East ISD reports up to $2 million in winter storm damage

Four large, costly chillers at three schools froze over

SAN ANTONIO – The North East Independent School District had its share of water lines that burst, but the costliest damage to the city’s second largest school district was to four large chillers at three of its schools.

“Some of those chillers just froze over, broke and have to be replaced, unfortunately,” said NEISD spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor.

Normally used for air conditioning systems, the chillers affected were at Churchill High School, Bush Middle School and Garner Middle School.

Chancellor said each chiller costs $150,000, not including installation. The chillers can take eight to 12 weeks to build, and until then there will be the additional cost of renting other chillers.

But Chancellor said for now, because of the cooler weather, the temperature inside is comfortable enough without air conditioning.

“If this happened in summer, it would be a real different situation,” Chancellor said.

The chillers are the biggest ticket items, but Chancellor said the cost of additional repairs and replacements will be substantial.

“Nearly every single one of our schools had some sort of an issue,” she said.

The worst example was Thousand Oaks Elementary, where there was water throughout the school after a fire sprinkler line exploded in the attic, Chancellor said.

She said the incident went undetected for at least 24 hours.

But soon after it was discovered, Chancellor said maintenance crews took on the task of getting rid of the water before doing what needed to be done to reopen the school the following Monday.

“We had so many wonderful, wonderful maintenance staff, custodians, everyone who left their own families at home,” she said. “Many of them, like everyone, had no electricity, no water, but came just out of sheer loyalty and responsibility.”

Chancellor said they were heroes that saved the day on behalf of the students and teachers at Thousand Oaks.

She said by the time they were done, “You probably wouldn’t even know what had happened.”

NEISD is still assessing the costs, but Chancellor said so far the damage estimate appears to be at least $1.4 million.

“That’s just in parts. That doesn’t include any of the labor,” Chancellor said. “When it’s all said and done, we’re probably looking at about two million.”

Chancellor said the school district is covered by insurance, but it has a $100,000 deductible. NEISD also is looking at other options, such as grants and help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“All in all, though, we do feel pretty fortunate that it wasn’t worse,” Chancellor said.

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.