Hackensack Middle School Principal Anibal Galiana was worried about the state of the school after seeing the severe flooding and destruction caused by Hurricane Ida across New Jersey. So, he called his custodian, Peter Hemans, early Thursday morning to let him know he was going to try to get to the school to gauge the damage.
To Galiana’s surprise, the custodian was already at the school — he stayed the entire night, running pumps to make sure the school did not flood.
“I told him that I’m not sure if I could get there since all the streets were closed, but I’d like to check on the building,” Galiana told USA Today. “He said ‘Dr. Galiana, I’m still here; I never left.’ I said, ‘What?!'”
“He’s been an asset to the building since he’s arrived,” said Galiana. “He’s a hard worker and he’s a great example for the other custodians, too. 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.”
Hemans is the school’s head custodian, and he said he received an alert on the night of Sept. 1 that water was entering the school’s basement. It took him over an hour to reach the school due to many roads already being flooded, but once he arrived, he ensured the emergency sump pumps were working properly and checked on them throughout the night.
“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.
Hurricane Ida hit the area just a week before classes were set to begin. “We are ready for our scholars because of his amazing dedication,” Hackensack Middle School said on its Facebook page, as it called Hemans a hero.
Hemans was happy to see Hackensack’s students return to school last week. “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.”
Image source: USA Today