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Clean-up from tornado damage moving quickly

Comstock Park — Nine months after an EF1 tornado caused structural damage at Pine Island Elementary School, the temporary firewall separating the area will soon be coming down.

Marty Eischer, assistant superintendent of human resources, said staff should be able before summer break to move back into the six third-grade classrooms that were damaged to prepare for students returning to the space this fall.

“I’m very pleased with the timeline, because originally when it happened, there was a thought that we might not be in there until mid to late fall of 2024 and now we’re months ahead of schedule,” Eischer said.

Original estimates for the repair were around $2.5 million, but after the district had an engineer assess the structural integrity of the building, it was determined that the cost would be around $1 million, he said, adding that the district will file a claim with its insurance company once the work is completed. 

Six classrooms in the third-grade wing, located on the second floor of the building, were damaged as a result of the tornado’s winds. Many trees around the school were uprooted, but playground equipment was not damaged. Eischer said the district did have the playground equipment inspected for safety.

There was no other damage on the second floor or in the lower level of the building. Classrooms impacted by the storm were relocated within Pine Island, Eischer said.

Work on the structure included truss reinforcement, concrete work and a roof membrane replacement. The pitch-part of the roof does not need to be replaced, Eischer said. The rooms received new carpet, paint and a deep cleaning to make sure everything is ready in the fall, he said. There also  will be some landscaping work done on the property.

“I was out the next morning (after the tornado) doing a walk-through with our insurance adjuster and contractors, and the power of nature, you’re kind of in awe to see how much damage that it can do,” Eischer recalled. “Thirty- and 40-year-old trees uprooted like they’re twigs. It was extensive to see.”

Read more from Comstock Park: 
Punt, pass and pick: fourth-graders learn geography from NFL
Students plan activities to make a better place

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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