A Lansdowne school, wrecked by a violent storm last year, is restored and looking better than it did before falling foul of the tempest.
Many have had a hand in repairing the damage The Vine School suffered in the June 2017 storm; those who helped include parents; teachers; members of The Message Church in Rosebank; ward councillor Mark Kleinschmidt; the Denver Road neighbours; All Saints Church, which owns the premises; assessors; insurers; architects; engineers and contractors.
The school’s director, Susan Keegan sent out an appeal for help on the morning of June 7 last year after the school’s roof blew off in the rain and wind that lashed Cape Town during one of the worst storms to hit the city in living memory.
Those who answered the call were stunned by what they saw: roof sheets were hanging from trees and scattered about the parking lot and neighbouring properties; debris littered the playground and lay piled against trees and benches; and gutters and roofing
timber swung perilously from the top floor where classrooms were open to the sky.
About 40 volunteers donned hard hats and set to work moving books, resources and classroom furniture to safety.
It was a long day, racing against the clock. Mercifully, the weather held off until everything upstairs had been rescued and moved to safety in the downstairs classrooms and hall.
Only three books, some framed pictures and a few other items were damaged beyond repair.
The real destruction was reserved for the building and exterior.
Clean up and repairs began when the storm eventually ended. Parquet tiles were lifted, cleaned, relaid and varnished; new ceilings and electrical fittings were installed and the roof, gutters and downpipes were replaced.
Mobile classrooms were hired to accommodate four classes and the library during the restoration, which took almost four months to complete.
Ms Keegan, who oversaw the restoration, recalled that it had been a very stressful time and she had frequently turned to the words of an old hymn for encouragement.
“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm,” said Ms Keegan, reciting its words.
The school used the opportunity to do extensive renovations, which have given it an extra classroom, a music room, an art room and two new store rooms.
All the upstairs classrooms have new ceilings and insulation, restored parquet floors, upgraded lighting and a fresh coat of paint.
The library was relocated to its new home downstairs.
The guttering ripped off in the storm was replaced with a rainwater harvesting system, and, in April, after the first winter rains, the school switched to rainwater for flushing, instead of municipal water.
The school emerged from the disaster with premises that are more attractive and better equipped than ever before.