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Community rallies behind Vancouver school after pipe burst causes flooding, displacement

A Vancouver School Board spokesperson says the majority of Tecumseh Elementary School has water damage, and it will likely be at least a few months before students can return.  (CBC News - image credit)
A Vancouver School Board spokesperson says the majority of Tecumseh Elementary School has water damage, and it will likely be at least a few months before students can return. (CBC News - image credit)

The principal of a Vancouver school whose students were displaced and forced to temporarily relocate after a burst pipe flooded the school building says he is grateful for the community's outpouring of support.

Jesse Brown, principal at Tecumseh Elementary School in Vancouver's Fraserview neighbourhood, says the school has received so many donations of school supplies following the flood — which happened on the evening of Jan. 15 — that it had to stop accepting supplies.

"The outpouring of care and support from the community has been overwhelming," he said.

"Everybody's asking how they can contribute."

The flood occurred during a cold snap in the province, although the cause of the pipe burst is still unclear.

Tecumseh students were moved to a swing space about two kilometers away.
Tecumseh students were moved to a swing space about two kilometers away.

Tecumseh students were temporarily moved to a new space about two kilometres away. The school's principal says they received a flood of donations to help set up the space. (CBC News)

Approximately 400 students attending Tecumseh were moved on Tuesday to the South Hill Education Centre, about two kilometres away.

Vancouver School Board spokesperson Jiana Chow says it will likely be at least a few months before the students can return.

Contractors are still assessing the school, but Chow says the majority of Tecumseh has water damage.

Brown says the students have shown to be resilient and adaptable.

"They are laughing, they are smiling ... the sound of their voice in the hallways is filling us with joy and hope again," he said.

Parent Marc Flores said despite having to get up earlier in the morning, his son has remained positive and is adjusting well to the new environment.

"It's a very unfortunate event, especially for the kids, but I believe we thrive under pressure," said Flores.

Betty Mak has been driving her two sons to school this week as the temporary space is farther from their home.

"I think more communication from the VSB would definitely be appreciated," said Mak. "I'd definitely like to know what their plans are, like timeline."

Chow says the school board will update parents as soon as they have more information.

Brown says while the extent of the damage is being assessed, he knows it is extensive and feels a sense of loss.

"This school is our community," he said. "It's hours and days and weeks and months and years of effort and care that has gone into that."