PARIS, Ill. (WCIA) – Wednesday is the first day back for Paris High School students, but school officials are dealing with wet drywall, warped gymnasium floorboards and damage that will take months to repair. On Christmas Day, a fire suppression line froze and broke – flooding the building.

“We had water running out of that two and a half inch pipe for more than 20 minutes just pushing out,” Principal Mark Cox said. “On Christmas Day, this [gymnasium] was a lake.”

While many in Paris were at home opening gifts with their families, high school staff members rushed to the building to stop the flood.

“That pipe actually popped apart,” Cox said. “You can see that right there where they’ve spliced it back together.”

Cox said an inch and a half of water covered the gym and snaked through the halls, reaching the cafeteria and library. They quickly brought in crews to air it out, but Cox learned the gym’s floor will need to be fully replaced – which won’t be easy, or cheap.

“This is three main gyms, 120 feet long. So they estimate a complete finish will not be until probably August,” he said. “At this time I don’t think we have even a ballpark figure.”

But what they do have is a plan. Students will be bused to the National Guard armory for P.E. class and sent to the old Ernie Eveland Gymnasium for sports games and practices.

“This always has a special nostalgic feel as soon as you walk in, let alone when this place is packed with student sections and a heated game going on,” Athletics Director Creighton Tarr said. “It’s going to be special.”

To Tarr, that’s the silver lining. The historic facility was built in 1941.

“These kids are going to get to see this place in a big time basketball game and a great atmosphere so I’m excited about that,” Tarr said.

The district said coaches will communicate with teams about any schedule or location changes. They also said graduation and the May Fete event will still take place on the dates posted in the school calendar.