Local daycare seeks help after flooding

Published 2:19 pm Wednesday, February 19, 2020

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WCCA had $50K worth of damage to needed supplies

COLUMBUS—A local non-profit daycare center is seeking help from the community to reopen after the center suffered major flooding on Feb. 6. 

Western Carolina Community Action operates a facility in the Lynn area, where teachers and staff had to evacuate 16 children from the center the morning of Thursday, Feb. 6 when the area had torrential rain that caused widespread flooding. 

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Polk County Schools provided space for the children the day of the evacuation and they are currently being temporarily housed. 

The building suffered damage, which the landlord is taking care of, but WCCA needs about $50,000 worth of replacement furnishings, according to CEO David White. While WCCA is now obtaining flood insurance, the center did not have flood insurance as the building was not located in a flood zone. 

White said the center filled up with approximately 8 inches of water that day. 

The center in Lynn contains three classrooms, kitchen and office space. The needs include classroom furnishings, cribs, books, toys and outdoor playground equipment, which were all damaged during the flood. 

WCCA is asking for monetary donations because the items need to be Early Head Start Program specific. 

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday night and heard from commissioner vice chair Tommy Melton about the daycare center’s flooding following the area receiving at least 7.5 inches of rain over a short period of time. 

Melton described the flooding, saying the daycare center building was a “war zone.” 

“They do a wonderful service,” Melton said. “They were completely wiped out.” 

Melton and White both said the Columbus Baptist Church is graciously stepping up to provide space for the center for the next 45 days while repairs are done. 

Melton said on the day of the flooding, the children were transported to the Food Lion parking lot then transported to Stearns where they were given diapers, food and water. 

“I’m proud we were able to step up and help our children,” Melton said. “There’s nothing more important in Polk County than our children.” 

Commissioner Paul Beiler said that was an awesome story. 

“I love to hear stories like that,” Beiler said. 

WCCA estimates that its Columbus center will be out of service for approximately 8 weeks, but that Columbus Baptist Church has graciously offered space for temporary classrooms. There are currently up to 24 children (ages birth to 3 years) enrolled at the Early Head Start center. 

In the interim period, several children will also receive weekly home visits from teachers until the center reopens, White said. WCCA officials said they hope to open temporary classrooms on Feb. 19. 

“Our first concern was for the safety of the children and staff,” White said. “Now we just have to rebuild with the help of the community so that these children have a place to grow and learn. It won’t be easy, but Polk County is a strong community!”

Donations can be made online through wcca.net and a GoFundMe page has been set up (Columbus Children’s Center Flood Recovery) for donations. 

WCCA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Hendersonville that assists low income and underserved people in western North Carolina, including Head Start and Early Head Start services, housing programs, transportation, services for older adults and self-sufficiency programs.