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APS cleans up after downed trees, flooding

John Griego, left, and Lonnie McGhee, with the Albuquerque Public Schools Landscape Department, use chain saws to cut up a 75-year-old ponderosa pine tree at Jefferson Middle School on Saturday. The tree toppled after a Friday evening storm slammed the city. (Greg Sorber/Journal)
John Griego, left, and Lonnie McGhee, with the Albuquerque Public Schools Landscape Department, use chain saws to cut up a 75-year-old ponderosa pine tree at Jefferson Middle School on Saturday. The tree toppled after a Friday evening storm slammed the city. (Greg Sorber/Journal)
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Albuquerque Public Schools was reeling on Saturday from Friday night’s storm, with maintenance crews called in for clean-up and principals called in to inspect their school buildings.

“We got hammered,” said APS Superintendent Winston Brooks. He said crews began working at 3 a.m., and he directed every principal to go to their school and walk through each classroom checking for damages.

The damages were mainly from downed trees and flooding. APS maintenance and operations director John Dufay said at least two dozen large trees on APS campuses fell down during the storm, including huge ponderosa pines at Jefferson Middle School at Lomas and Girard NE.

Dufay said campuses with numerous large trees were among the worst hit. He listed Montezuma, Monte Vista, Bandelier and Whittier elementary schools as others where trees would have to be cleaned up. At Valle Vista Elementary School in the southwest part of the city, he said the district was dealing with a tree that fell onto a portable building.

Flooding was most severe in the South Valley and other low-lying areas of the city, affecting schools like Rio Grande High School and Ernie Pyle Middle School. Dufay said the district also saw flooding at some Northeast Heights schools like Eldorado High School and E.G. Ross Elementary School.

It was too early to put a dollar figure on the damages Saturday, but Dufay said he is confident the district will be ready for the first day of school on Aug. 13.

Brooks praised the maintenance staff, saying they “always pull out a miracle.”

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