Bristol School Books Must Go After Flood

Mold from Flood Ruins Thousands

After the flooded Pequabuck River left three feet of mud nine days ago in the basement of O'Connell Elementary School, workers cleaned out the silt and disinfected every surface, in an around the clock effort to get the school open.

Now, in a heartbreaking job, librarians are recording the bar codes of books in the library so the school can tell FEMA what it needs replaced.

"I spent a lot of years since I've been principal bringing the collection up," said Mike Audette. "So we brought the collection up to about 9,000 or so.  We just lost 2,000 of 'em."

The pages of the books are laced with growing mold.  Sandbags kept all but a few inches of water out of the library but then the wooden bookshelves did what wood does when it gets wet.

:"It acts just like a wick," said Audette, principal at O'Connell for 15 years. "It draws the water up, so the water never actually hit the books but it drew up.  When we looked at them, we were so excited.  We said 'oh my God, the books were saved.'  They weren't."

This is O'Connell's last year on the banks of the Pequabuck.  Next year, the school will open in a new building, on higher ground.

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