Heavy rains and drainage issues forced Marion’s Robin’s Nest Learning Center to close early Thursday, as several inches of water flooded classrooms and hallways in one of the center’s two buildings.
Staff members telephoned parents asking them to pick up their children as others worked to mitigate the water as quickly as possible.
Director Jena Parson said the center on South Virginia Avenue is in a part of Marion prone to flash flooding, but this instance is particularly severe, with several inches of water in some classrooms.
“Our facility is closed for the afternoon, possibly longer due to the entire building being flooded,” she said, adding that staff members were moving furniture and other items off of the floor as well as using a variety of towels, rags, mops and wet/dry vacuums to prevent the spread of water. A restoration company began assisting with cleanup Thursday afternoon.
“They’ll do whatever they can to try to get our building back open as soon as possible."
Parson said she was unsure if the facility would be open for children on Friday and expressed frustration with the situation.
“We understand that there’s a flash flood and there are a lot of areas that are experiencing that, but we do have a drainage issue on Virginia Street that has caused this same issue before,” she said. “The flooding is coming in our walls and through our hallways.”
Parson indicated she left a telephone message for city administrators, but did not receive a return call.
City of Marion Chief of Staff Cody Moake said the problem stems from too much rain over a short period of time.
“From what I can tell, we had 4 to 5 inches of rain in about two hours,” he said. “Marion was built in a bowl of sorts and we get these issues from time to time. It’s affecting all parts of town and it is nothing too specific to that area.”
Moake said a number of city streets were closed because of the flooding and he indicated that Robin’s Nest’s property is close to a Federal Emergency Management Agency-designated floodway, which can overflow.
“This is a once-in-10-year rain and it’s presenting some challenges,” he said.
Parson said parents had to wade through standing water to pick up their children when the decision was made to close the facility.
“Health and safety is first and foremost which is why we called our families to get their children. We want our children to be safe,” she said. “Obviously, we are going to work to get the water out of the building as soon as possible so three is not any long-term damage.”
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“The biggest challenge is our youth not being able to see their friends’ faces and for us not being able to understand what they are saying," said Jena Parson, director of Robin’s Nest Learning Center in Marion.