A microburst storm that struck the Plainview Elementary school just right, ripped the roof off the east half of the elementary (dark roof at left) and blew it across the street to land against the high school gym (at right). Photos courtesy Eric Bergh, Grant and Amy Dummer, Chad and Nan Kment, Melissa Doerr and Police Chief Kristy Hallock.

Midafternoon on Monday, July 10 – a large weather front passed through Plainview – leaving a very specific trail in its wake, with some severe damages to Plainview Public Schools’ Elementary building.

With clouds rolling in around 4:30 p.m. to the northeast, residents began shutting windows and pulling cars in garages to avoid any extreme weather, but at around 5:30 p.m., what was assumed to be a large wind gust hit the Plainview Elementary building, and lifted the entire roofing system off the east end of the building, flinging it across the street and into/onto the high school gymnasium wall.
Insulation, sheet metal, the roofing system itself, and a lot of debris crossed the entire street separating the two schools, and settled partially on top of the high school gymnasium, before crushing on top of a few cars below, destroying them as well.

As was described as “fortunately” the roofing system was laid over the top of the elementary building’s original gravel roof, so while the east wing of the school was not completely lain bare, there was a significant amount of rain dropped in the hours that followed that did soak the building in good fashion.

Internal inspection of the building showed water coming through the roof in at least the majority of the eastern classrooms and teacher workroom, and water running through the halls, settling about mid-way through the western hallway, and gathering into the lunch room.

Also “fortunately” – the Plainview Board of Education was expected to gather that afternoon for their regular July meeting, so Superintendent Dr. Darron Arlt and a few Board members were on hand to make some rapid fire decisions about barricading the street and controlling onlookers until police and fire units could arrive within minutes after the destruction.

Social media posts followed of many pictures – picked up by local and statewide television sources, radio and other newspapers – and yet that evening a remediation company from Pierce was called into help begin the process of removing all the water, and by early Tuesday morning – roofing companies, insurance company representatives and local student and parent workers had assembled to help with cleanup of the ground debris.

Hoffman Construction provided an excavator for lifting the large roof piece off the high school gym wall and trailers for hauling away the roof, and D&L Construction was onsite until late in the evening on Monday helping to place buckets and haul out wet ceiling tiles.
On Tuesday work resumed early as weight lifting and sports practices were cancelled and those young Pirates all chipped in a hand with gloves and garbage bags to pick up the ground debris that had scattered as far as the pool and park areas south of the high school.

Amidst all that busy work – Superintendent Arlt posted that “we have no reason to believe that we won’t start school on time,” noting that the truly unfortunate part of the event was that the school had just the day before been completely prepped for the coming school year that is scheduled to start on August 15.

“I couldn’t even start to mention names of all the kids and adults that came Tuesday with rakes and brooms,” said Arlt. “People just showed up [Monday] night and [Tuesday] morning. We’re really blessed.”
The roof portion was estimated to measure about 60’ x 40’ that somehow caught the wind just right and ripped the entire system off the building – taking along just one of the rooftop mounted units – before floating across the street and smashing into the high school building.

Pictures followed that night and into Tuesday of the three vehicles that had the unfortunate positioning to be right under the roofing system when it fell. 
Arlt said that early Tuesday morning had the school’s insurance provider on-site for inspection, and the school’s roofing company there to provide a temporary cover until something else more permanent can be installed.
As far as the interior, Arlt remained optimistic as to the actual property damage loss. There was no fault in the roof structure, so just water coming through the old roofing system into the classrooms and hallways below. 
“Most of the water went to low spots and could be removed,” said Arlt. “We’ll losing ceiling tiles, but other than that, I’d call it ‘minimal damage’.” 

Teachers and other helping hands were scrambling Monday, once the building was secured, to recover and remove textbooks and computers from classrooms to avoid any additional water damages, and the level of water in the rooms, unless falling directly down, didn’t reach high enough to damage cabinets and other items.

“We’ll celebrate starting school on time in August,” said Arlt. “And the coming together of the community to help – ‘many hands made light work.’”

It was estimated around 50-60 students and parents worked for more than two hours Tuesday morning cleaning up the debris, a good start to work that will surely stretch into the next few weeks, before the hoped beginning of school “on time” – Tuesday, August 15.