Burst pipes wreak havoc at Norfolk schools

At least 17 Norfolk schools have been flooded during the Christmas holidays after freezing temperatures caused pipes to burst.

The county council's insurance department has so far received claims from 17 schools which include The Clare School at Eaton and Bawburgh School.

A spokesman said the problem was due to the 'prolonged sub-zero temperatures that we have been experiencing' and had affected 17 of the 434 schools the council was responsible for.

In Norwich, George White Junior School, on Crome Road, could be closed until the middle of January after a pipe burst on Christmas Day.

Flooding has caused extensive damage to the building. Headteacher June Sewell said her deputy had gone to the school to try to switch off an alarm.

She added: 'She couldn't turn the alarm off and then realised there was something not quite right. It smelled funny, it felt damp and when she went through into the main body of the school, away from the entrance area, it was just a scene of chaos.

'We have ceilings that have come down, we have floors that are lifting, we have no electricity, we have no heating, we have no telephone lines. I doubt very much if the computers are working.'

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Workers were at the George White Junior School today, removing carpets and installing dehumidifiers to dry out the building.

The school website said yesterday that it would be likely to remain shut until Monday January 17.

Parents are advised to keep an eye on the emergency school closures list on the county council website in case the building can be re-opened early.

Other schools affected by burst pipes include Eaton Primary, The Clare School, Eaton, Ashleigh Infants in Wymondham, Wymondham High, Old Buckenham Primary, near Attleborough; Tunstead Primary, near Coltishall, and Bawburgh School,

At Toftwood Infant School, near Dereham, part of the school was ankle-deep in water.

A Norfolk county council spokesman said: 'The risk and insurance department historically has always issued advice regarding preventative action to be taken over the Christmas holidays. This information was re-issued earlier in December.'

Teachers and children are due to return to their schools after a fortnight's holiday tomorrow.