The Great Flood of ’23


Courtney Mar-Lew '24

This notice, posted by the first floor staircases, blocks faculty, staff, and students from entering the flooded area.

Despite occurring over a month ago, the flooding of SHC continues to disrupt the routines of the entire student body. On March 27, 2023, the SHC administration activated the school’s email alert system to inform the SHC community of a flash flood in the lowest floor of the La Salle building. As the school worked to address the flood and assess the damage, the next big challenge was relocating impacted classes to any available learning spaces they could find. The Emerald talked to SHC’s Dean of Students, Mr. Mario Sazo, about the flood and the school’s next steps: “We had to move everybody out of the first floor, obviously the counselors, [everybody in] the classrooms. Once we get the ‘okay’ to start rebuilding, we’ll start to do so and reconfigure the area.” The flood was caused by the breakage of a major water main owned by the city of San Francisco on Ellis Street. Water made its way downhill into the La Salle building, pooling on the first floor, and also traveled into the Brothers’ House. There was a bit of a silver lining to what could have potentially been a messy and costly issue – the water was fresh and sanitary, and the city is financially covering all of the damages so repairs can be made without cost to the school.

Given the suddenness of these events and the extent of their impact, all first floor classes were hastily moved to any empty locations across the school. While some students were lucky enough to be relocated to a spare classroom, others had to adapt to working in areas such as the Brothers’ Garage. Unfortunately, the repairs will not be completed before the end of the school year, so everyone displaced from their normal areas have had to adjust for the remainder of the school year.

Mr. Hren teaches World History 1,2 in the Brothers’ Garage after the flood relocations. (Olivia Lombardini ’26)

One teacher affected was Mr. Nick Hren, whose World History and Scripture classes have been abruptly relocated three times: from the first floor to the library, from the library to the Old Gym, and then for the remaining month of the year, from the Old Gym to the Brothers’ Garage. “It’s just different for the students,” he reflected. “We’ve just got people walking by outside – there was a squirrel in the classroom last week! Honestly, everyone’s been a good sport. No students have really complained. They’re all just having fun with it – I think that’s a great sign that our students can adapt so easily!”  

Though it seems like a very simple process of cleaning up excess water and drying out the impacted area, returning the first floor back to normal is much more complicated. The school must follow a lengthy process of taking the walls apart one by one to ensure there is no mold enclosed in the walls. This inspection of the space’s integrity and safety makes the project much longer than everyone had hoped it would be, but the school is working diligently to make the process as speedy as possible.

Mr. Sazo explained that work will begin in the summer to rebuild and reconfigure the area. “Dr. Skrade [SHC’s President] will send out more plans in the future about how that’s going to look,” he said. “We’re grateful that we’re able to do what we can right now and just make sure we have a good, safe environment for the students.”

Through many obstacles, SHC’s faculty and students have adapted and created a new normal for themselves, whether that includes occupying an unusual classroom or sacrificing space for those who need it. What could have been a disaster was handled with creativity and flexibility that has brought the community closer than ever.