When the principal of Hackensack Middle School called her head custodian about potential flooding in the school, Peter Hermans, was already there.
“He said he slept there to make sure the building didn’t flood since school starts next week and the kids need a building to come to,” Principal Anibal Galiana said.
Hemans was at home the night of Sept. 1 when an alarm alerted him that water was entering the school’s basement — an early sign of what would end up being historic flooding in the Northeast.
“I like to make sure that my job is done,” Hemans said. “I took it upon myself to get it done,” he added, saying he didn’t want to see the school suffer damage.
Hermans’ journey to get to the school took over an hour as many roads were already closed due to flooding. But once he was there, Hermans stayed to make sure the emergency pump was running all night.
“We are ready for our scholars because of his amazing dedication,” Hackensack Middle School wrote on Facebook calling Hermans a hero.
The storm hit less than a week before classes were set to begin at the school in Bergen County, New Jersey. But because of Hemans, what could have been a stressful aftermath, instead turned into relief.
Students started classes again last Tuesday, which gave Hermans a beautiful reminder of why he shows up every day.
“When you see them, especially in the cafeteria, it’s a joy seeing them eating and playing,” he said. “They’re very happy to be back to school rather than being at home.”
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