By Shirley Shuman
Among many problems caused by the recent flooding in Braxton County was the playground at Flatwoods Elementary School and the building itself. “Around 10” volunteers took on the school playground. Amanda Gum, one of the school’s parents, spearheaded its cleanup, which took almost three days.
The biggest problem the flood caused with the playground was washing away the pea gravel that covered it. Landscaping borders were also knocked down in the kindergarten area. No equipment was damaged, but it was left standing in mud and some remaining water. Gum took steps to repair the damage.
First, she spoke with BOE central office staff, who told her that FEMA was doing nothing to help. Next, she spoke with one of the directors in the central office. “I was told that whoever was in charge would contact a contractor. I knew that would take a week or two so I told that person I would take care of repairing the playground if they would get us the pea gravel we needed,” Gum explained. Another parent, Casey Nay, complimented Gum on her organization skills and her determination. “Amada did a tremendous job,” Nay said, “to make sure our kids could use the playground when school started.”
After putting out the word that she needed volunteers, she said several, including teacher Jamie Currence, showed up. Trevor Harper, Susan Critchley, and Patrick Ramsey provided tractors which were used to dump the gravel and scatter it to a certain point. “The tractors were a big help,” Gum said, but she noted that volunteers had to use rakes and shovels to get the gravel under the playground equipment.
After the gravel was scattered and the landscape borders replaced, the playground was ready for today, the first day of school. Those volunteering also took time to mow around the school building before they left. The work took three days.
The playground, of course, was only part of the problem. Water entered the school, as it frequently does with extremely hard rains, and some boxes stored on the floor became wet. The water brought mud which had to be cleaned out. Principal Nicole Hissam gave a brief summary of the inside damage.
Water was inside the cafeteria and gym along with the Title I, Pre-K, kindergarten, and fifth-grade rooms, according to Principal Hissam. “We lost some minimal items,” she said, “including some paper items, classroom supplies, and rugs.”
The principal, custodian Gloria Belknap, and teacher Jessica Porto did much of the cleanup with help from a crew that Dr. Brenda Wells sent. Hissam said it took three or four days to get the water removed and the inside cleaned. Now, she noted, “We’re ready and excited for school to start. We’re also extremely thankful for all the volunteers who came to help.”
With all the clean-up done, Flatwoods Elementary School had its Open House last night.
(See additional photographic coverage on Page 9 of this issue.)