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Moricetown school flooded

Staff and contractors working to re-open school quickly. Band offers temporary space.
Moricetown Elementary Secondary School is cleaned up after a pipe burst Jan. 3, causing a flood and moving students out to Band spaces for what is expected to be a few weeks. (Contributed photo)

Moricetown students will be home for the holidays a bit longer than expected after Moricetown Elementary Secondary School (MESS) experienced a school-wide flood Jan. 3.

A press release from Witset First Nation (Moricetown) on behalf of the Kyah Wiget Education Society (KWES) that operates the school said the cause of the flood was a broken four-inch pipe that feeds the sprinkler system. The release said the pipe appears to have been flawed in production, causing a malfunction during regular operation.

The sensor systems detected water mid-day; fortunately, cleaning staff were present and shut down all systems quickly.

KWES’s priority now is to provide students a safe space as quickly as possible. Its current goal is to have temporary space for all our student by Friday, Jan. 12, or maybe even as early as Wednesday, according to Witset communications coordinator Christine Bruce.

According to the release, executive director of Witset First Nation Lucy Gagnon has offered use of part of the Band gym, the small feast hall and the upper floor of the band office for temporary class room and storage space. As a result, these areas may be available to the public on a very limited basis, or closed to the public until further notice.

The Witsuwit’en Child and Family Centre may be open on Monday, Jan. 8. Since the Daycare systems are tied to those of MESS, the Band is awaiting confirmation regarding opening. It asks members to watch the official Moricetown News and Events Facebook page for updates.

ICount and all Adult Education programs are unaffected: these buildings and programmes will operate as usual starting on Monday, Jan. 8.

The release said Universal Restoration Systems, an environmental and hazardous waste consulting firm in Smithers, is responsible for removal of all damaged materials, and inspection and testing of wall, floor and ceiling material. They will also be decontaminating the furniture over the weekend. URS has employed local subcontractors, including KWES Cleaning Services, who have been putting in long hours all week to get the building ready for students.

The URS report will be available by Tuesday, Jan. 16, at which time they will begin wall, flooring and ceiling restoration.

The firm currently is using diesel generators to dry class rooms and halls. Hydro and electricity to the building has been temporarily turned off.

KWES said it would like to thank the Witset Band for offering temporary class room space in their gym, small feast hall and upper floor of the Band offices. KWES also said it appreciates the community’s patience as they are working to make available the most accurate and complete information.

Bruce said notices to members will continue to be sent out to give updates, as well as updates on the Facebook page.

For more information, contact Diane Mattson at (250) 847-2244, extension 602, or by email at To make limited bookings of any of the Band halls, contact the Band receptionist at (250) 847-2133.