On May 8, high winds barreled down the southeast Kansas plains and tore through towns like Weir, McCune and Cherokee.

On May 8, high winds barreled down the southeast Kansas plains and tore through towns like Weir, McCune and Cherokee. Many trees were uprooted and several silos were blown yards away. Yet some of the worst damage came to the Southeast High School gymnasium.
The roof of the gymnasium was peeled back like a sardine can lid, twisting back and rolling over itself. In addition to that, the sub-ceiling of the gym had several panels that collapsed in, exposing the gym floor to the skies above.
Roughly one week later, on May 17, that same gymnasium hosted graduation ceremonies. Southeast principal Jeff Spangler couldn’t have been more pleased.
“We looked Friday morning at a big hole in the roof, and we were running through plan A, plan B, plan C,” Spangler said. “We had many principals and superintendents in the area call us and offer us their facilities if we needed them for graduation. That brought a lot of relief knowing we had a plan B if we needed it.
“On Monday, we went to the seniors and we told them we may have to make other plans. By Tuesday, it was a lot of relief to know that we got that cleaned up enough.”
Spangler was speaking about the emergency roof repair that was done by Southeast maintenance and custodial crews. Spangler said the crews worked over Friday and Saturday to put a temporary roof on the building before showers rolled through the area in the next week.
“We really avoided catastrophe in that next week,” Spangler said. “It didn’t rain Friday night, and we were worried that it would. On Saturday, the crews were just coming off putting up the temporary roof when we got the next big rain. It really saved our basketball floor.”
That was the real fear if the temporary fix had not been found. If the roof had not been fixed in some manner, the mechanical bleachers could have taken some water damage, and the basketball floors could have buckled and warped after the rain.
As it is, the worst damage is some water damage to the western wall, as well as some damage in the weight room. Spangler said the summer weights program would be relocated to the main building.
Crews will come out this summer and replace the roof, walls and insulation where water came through. When that will take place and how much it will cost, Spangler does not know. But he does know that the quick fix got the gym through one of the biggest events of the year: Graduation.
“We have to say thank you to all of those who worked so hard,” Spangler said. “A lot of parents came out to graduation and didn’t know it had been damaged. They came and enjoyed graduation and didn’t give it a second thought. That’s what we had hoped for.”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.