Boiler blast damages school's instruments

January 9, 2008 3:31:23 PM PST
A boiler exploded at Neumann-Goretti High creating damage to the school's band room.A valve on the school's boiler failed and two feet of water poured into the band room. It happened over the weekend and by the time the flood was discovered the instruments may have been floating for as long as 48 hours.

Walter Belovitz, the music director at Neumann-Goretti, said at least 70 of the school's 100 instruments were either totally ruined or damaged.

"This is like a band director's worst nightmare," Belovitz said.

The water took the paint off the bottom of a piano and the bassoons cracked from warping. Belovitz said the drums will crack as they dry. Many other instruments were damaged including several of the brass instruments that will have to be reconditioned, amplifiers, and hundreds of orchestral arrangements inside fire cabinets.

Especially hard hit were the string instruments. The bases and cellos are warped and the wood cracking violins are literally popping apart

Belovitz estimates damage to be at least $70,000. The instruments are used for instruction and also special events.

"We were worried that our spring concert would be pushed back because right about now is when we'd be starting to practice for it," senior at Neumann-Goretti Gina Stankiewicz said.

"I was sort of dumbfounded when I saw the room," senior Stephen Leonetti said.

"My viola was damaged. It's really devastating, as part of band and orchestra, to see the amount of damage water can do," senior Theresa Fields said.

The school does have insurance, but until instruments are replaced, administrators say they will rent some so that students can start playing again as soon as possible.