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A look inside Detroit's Southeastern high after pipe burst causes millions in damage

Posted at 6:17 PM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-13 18:17:44-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The city of Detroit says there were no violations that caused a pipe to burst at Southeastern High School of Technology and Law over holiday break. It simply was severely cold weather that impacted numerous buildings around the city.

At Southeastern, it caused so much damage that the school will not be physically open again for class for at least two months.

“It’s so much harder,” said Capri Jackson-Neal, a Southeastern High School freshman.

Capri says she worked hard to catch up academically after the disruption of the pandemic. She is crushed a pipe burst over holiday break caused so much damage at her school.

She and her mom Christina Jackson-Neal are trying to have a good sense of humor about virtual learning.

“It is so hard on virtual. I could just mute the computer and go to sleep,” Capri said.

“Now, I got to check up on her and knock on the door, (saying) 'You up? You up? You in there?'” Christina Jackson-Neal said.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District allowed 7 Action News inside to take a look at the work being done to get the building back open. While much of the building is not safe as active work is underway, much of the water-damaged material has been removed and rooms have been sanitized on the third floor where we got a tour.

The pipe that burst is at a high point in the building and part of a fire suppression system connected to a Detroit city water main. It sprayed water at high force, creating pressure and pushing the water through walls and ceilings on three floors of the building.

“During that cold spell around Christmas, there were hundreds of buildings that water pipes were breaking in,” said Steve Phelan, Belfor’s project manager on the site.

Belfor is the contractor working to restore the building right now.

“We have about 100 laborers on site and want to move as quick as possible, but we want to do it properly,” Phelan said.

Christina and Capri Jackson-Neal hope everything goes smoothly as the work is carried out, dreading the thought of any delays.