Throughout the last month, strong storms have battered the Bay Area. In the first week of January, one significant class five storm, with sustained winds of at least 157 miles per hour, brought floods and heavy rain to San Francisco, especially to the area’s frequent flood zones, causing the Menlo School administration to close school for two days. Menlo School sits directly on a flood zone on the dip of a basin, an area of land where a lot of rainwater flows and often floods.
Facilities Operations Service Coordinator Jeff Healey has implemented several measures to shield Menlo from these unusually destructive storms. According to Healey, over the years, facilities operations have been able to resolve minor weaknesses, such as the buildup of water in buildings, and generally secure Menlo against the weather. “The buildings are pretty secure in the fact that they’re not going to let water in,” Healey said. “But wind and water together can be a pretty potent enemy.”
Facilities Operations received an early warning about a recent storm on Jan 5, which Healey believes gave them time to identify potential weaknesses. Healey identified some problems involving water traveling in a man-made conduit across campus, but was able to resolve the challenge with relative ease. “Flooding isn’t really a problem because [water] will disappear,” he said.
Healey believes that as new technological improvements advance, Menlo’s yearly flood-prevention measures will improve, too. Once in a while, he knows that minor things, such as broken windows, are bound to happen.“You’re always going to have that little incident where a window seal starts to leave, just because over time, things break down.” When things break down, Healey and his Facilities Operations team will be the ones working hard to fix things. Regardless, Healey is confident that with the precautions that the school has taken, it can weather storms effectively.
Beyond battling floods, on January 13, when inspecting the campus, facilities found out that Menlo’s middle school heritage oak tree, which has been here since the school began, was unstable. They made the difficult decision to remove it before any further damage ensued. “It is true that heritage trees are protected unless they are diseased or pose a threat to people and property,” Healey said. “This tree had visibly started to move and was leaning on the classrooms.”