UPDATED: Pines Elementary Back Open After Power Problem

By: Natalie Kaplan Email
By: Natalie Kaplan Email

Pines Elementary School in Plymouth is back open today.

Students were forced to evacuate the school and go home early Monday afternoon after the power went out and it started to smell like smoke.

Some parents WITN spoke with say they were upset at the lack of communication between the school and them. School Principal Rob Ricketson tells us when they lost power their phone lines went dead as well. The County's Emergency Management Team had to come in and send out a voice recording about the problem to parents. Although some parents didn't get the message until hours after the fact it was the best they could do at the time.


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A power problem caused the evacuation of one school in Eastern Carolina.

The smell of smoke forced students out of Pines Elementary School in Plymouth Monday afternoon for about 30 minutes.

School officials say there is no fire at the school.

Superintendent Dr. Julius Walker says the problem began when Dominion Power cut one of their three power phases. The school system says since their air handlers run on three phases, that caused the smell of smoke.

The school says it shut down the air handlers, and were forced to dismiss school early because of the power problems.

Some parents WITN spoke with say they had no idea what was going on at the school and there was a complete lack of communication. They say phone alerts telling them the school was closing at 2:00 p.m. were received at 3:45 p.m.

Dr. Walker says it all happened so quickly that school officials did not have enough time to notify parents, but in all, the evacuation went very well.

There is no word yet whether Pines will be able to reopen Tuesday.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by roper Location: roper on Mar 18, 2009 at 08:34 AM
    There are too many dangerous and unexplained episodes coming from Pines Elementary. These are our children, our future and the people that will be taking care of us when we are senior citizens. Washington County need to wake up!
  • by Pines Mom Location: Roper on Mar 3, 2009 at 06:24 AM
    Why didn't the school send the kids to Union or PHS for an hour while parents were contacted? I've never heard of such irresponsibility! This issue isn't about parents attending meetings. It's about the decision making abilities of the school administration. Sending kids early to possibly empty homes is just STUPID! This isn't the first time this has happened either... They won't learn until something terrible happens!
  • by Jonathan Location: Plymouth on Feb 24, 2009 at 12:26 PM
    I am so sick of the complaining, what happened yesterday was a power company problem which shorted out an air handler motor. NO fault of the schools personnel. If you who complain would volunteer at these schools and participate. Maybe you would know more. Stop using the schools as your personnal daycare and get in there and help. These same whom are complaining are probably the same ones looking for a government handout!!!Take some responsibility for yourselves.
  • by Sam Location: Williamston on Feb 24, 2009 at 11:12 AM
    Sounds like Plymouth, Washington, and Greenville are now the 3 school issue places these days now. Glad to know the Martin County talk has dissapated!
  • by plymouth mom Location: plymouth on Feb 24, 2009 at 09:40 AM
    just so you all know the parents of pines didn't make the first call to witn it was the school just go ask just like the radio was called by them to inform us the parents of children at Pines. Does it hurt to have a drill once a month to prepare our students and teachers also other staff members of a fire drill etc. I think this is what should be done it only takes a little time for the students to be able to know what to do for a fire drill !!!!!!!
  • by Josh Location: Roper on Feb 24, 2009 at 09:10 AM
    As a resident of Washington County, a NC Public School teacher, and a product of Washington County Schools, I am tired of parents taking their complaints to the airwaves every 6 months. I would be willing to bet that these parents that come running to the camera, internet, chatrooms, etc. each time to bash the school system are NEVER present at a PTA meeting, school board meeting, or parent conference night. The local paper even ran a story about the poor showing of folks at a public input forum a few weeks back when the county leaders were asking for input and direction from the community about our schools. I don't begin to claim that our system is perfect, for that matter, please name a public school system that is. However, if more parents, from all backgrounds would take a constructive rather than destructive role in Washington County Schools, the entire situation would improve. You have teachers there of all ages, some of the finest in the region. Support them and your child.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 24, 2009 at 09:05 AM
    Some of you sound so stupid. How is this the schools fault??
  • by man Location: plymouth on Feb 24, 2009 at 05:21 AM
    it is amazing that you want to blame someone every time something does not go just as you expected. blame the power co. if you want to blame some one. i think some of you just want to be seen on tv.its funny that they had a fight at southside the other night and it was not all over witn but if it had happened at ply. high it would have been on the six oclock news. please quit gripeing
  • by 2@Pines on Feb 24, 2009 at 03:34 AM
    I am glad to see that some of you still have a positive outlook. I am in school almost everyday, I don't pretend to know all of what might be going on their; but you can find out a lot by just being their. A lot of people who do the complaining are the one's who never step foot on campus. I heard about the smoke when the fire department was called, can you imagine what everyone there must have been going through. Those people are responsible for all of our children and I firmly believe that my kids teachers have their best interest at heart. They have emergency drills for a reason, just in case something should happen---well today it did! Today the drills seemed to have paid off because everyone got out without incident. Maybe some of you doing the complaining should be the one's volunteering your time at school and creating a plan for when something like this happens. Thank you to all who played a part in getting our kids out safely today...
  • by cares Location: plymouth on Feb 24, 2009 at 03:16 AM
    There was no cover up. No one new what was happening. The school was evacuated in an orderly fashion as result of practice fire drills and training. The teachers and staff all worked together to keep the children of Pines safe. The administration and all of the staff were present actively working to make decisions and to get the students home safely. The lights were off. The phones did not work. No one was injured, thanks to the efforts of staff, fire, rescue, police and the adminstration. Pines and all schools could always improve or do some things better but not one staff member complained when told they had to stay until they were sure there students were home safely. They made phone calls on there own cell phones to parents. They kept your children where they could be safe until the parents picked them up or the children were on the buses. The bus drivers responded when called and made certain that someone was home. Washington County employees care about your children.
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