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Pre-school building ready to welcome children

BISMARCK — Just three months has passed since a tornado ripped the roof from the Bismarck pre-school and caused massive damage to the inside of the structure. Crews have worked at a feverish pace the past 90 days to have the building ready for today’s start of the new school year.

“It turned out really nice,” said Bismarck Superintendent Dr. Damon Gamble. “It’s amazing when you think of what it looked like on May 14 compared to the way it does now.”

According to the National Weather Service, damage patterns from May 14 showed reliable indications of rotation. The path’s length was approximately one mile long and 200 yards wide. The severity of roof damage to the pre-school building warranted an intensity ranking of EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The early morning tornado caused massive damage to the masonry building.

Gamble estimated the damage at $155,000. The district’s insurance company recommended the company CATCO to perform the restoration work. He said the district was not required to put the project out for bidding because it was a repair maintenance project.

The superintendent said he is happy with the district’s decision to use CATCO.

“This is what this company does,” he said. “They specialize in this line of work. Time was a big factor. From day one they assured us the building would be done in time for the start of school. Each day the crews would come in and be working on something different. One day the building didn’t have a roof and the next day it did. They are very efficient in what they do.”

He said CATCO removed all of the furniture and other items from the building.

“They cleaned everything and put it in storage until the building was ready,” Gamble said.

Gamble said the entire inside of the building was gutted. He said windows were added to the front of the building to allow for natural light.

“Those windows used to be there, but they were taken out some years ago,” he said. “We thought it would be nice to put them back in.”

Gamble said the company also added structural support to the outside of the building and installed a new heating and cooling system.

About 40 students attend school in the building. Two teachers teach a morning and an afternoon pre-school session.

“I think our kids and their parents will be excited to see this new facility,” Gamble said. “Right after the tornado hit, we had a lot of local folks offer assistance. Those offers meant a great deal to us even though CATCO did just about everything. The insurance company handled the claim extremely professionally. The ladies who work in this building have had to put in a little bit of extra effort because things had to be unpacked once the building was done. Our staff really rose to the occasion.”

Gamble said the building has been restored better than it was before the tornado.

“It’s gone from a negative to a positive,” he said.

Chris Cline is a reporter for the Daily Journal. Contact him at 573-431-2010, ext. 114 or at

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