Standing on the road watching the Hitchins Fire Department wash off the Carter Christian Academy school parking lot of mud, sand and rocks it was hard to believe that less than 24 hours ago people were being ferried across in a jon boat!
Four to six inches of rainfall on Sunday Feb. 1, 2021 caused widespread flooding in the Tristate area, including Hitchens in Carter County. CCA made the Huntington WV news, as all the buildings on the campus were surrounded by muddy water from nearby Little Sandy River.
Tony and Missy Sparks drove to the school after church on Sunday to check on the school and gym. Mike Hay and Josh Yates also showed up. They set up a pump in the school and began taking the new Chromebooks, computers and dehumidifiers from the basement to the upstairs level. They had to wait until 2 inches of water were inside the building before they could start the pump.
Unfortunately when they turned it on the pump would not work. Hay continued to work on the pump, but it refused to operate. Meanwhile Tony had waded through the rising water to go and check on the gym. He checked on the 7 pumps that were there and was unable to return to the school building.
Prayers were going up for God to protect the gym as it had been completely redone a few years before. Ten inches of water ended up flooding the locker rooms. (They are under the grandstands and below ground level.) Prayers were answered as miraculously the beautiful hardwood floors did not get wet. The new lockers are made of plastic and will be able to be sanitized and put back to use.
The CCA womens basketball uniforms were all spread outside to dry on railings and lockers. A couch and photographs were damaged in the water and will not be salvaged. A metal storage trailer was also flooded and everything had to be brought outside to be sorted. Items damaged by the water were taken to the dumpster and thrown away, Metal and plastic items were kept to be washed and sanitized.
The ground surrounding CCA had been thoroughly saturated the previous week by the historic three ice storms and several inches of snow on top of that. So unfortunately the water when it was rising had nowhere to go. The water level rose to the top edge of the window ledges of the ground floor on the outside of the building, which resulted in the basement level of CCA to flood.
This level of the building included eight classrooms, bathroom and home room. A total of three feet of water flooded the lower level. All of the teacher’s desks and bookshelves were ruined. (Student chairs are plastic and metal and will be sanitized). Some books, teaching materials, photographs, etc. were saturated and had to be thrown out. A science lab table was also destroyed.
After a very long night the sun came up and there were people on the road waiting to come and help. They brought boats and meals. Two industrial size pumps were installed and started pumping water back outside. Unfortunately the water was coming in just as fast as it was going out. But eventually the water started receding and progress was being made.
On Tuesday the Hitchens Fire Department started cleaning mud from the parking lot and R&D Railroad brought heavy equipment to help load the debris into dumpsters. CCA students, parents, staff, friends, family, a church and community members all came and continued to show up throughout the last two days to volunteer their time, muscles and support to CCA. Lowes donated cleaning supplies, and Tres Hermonos Nunez donated dinner. A Go Fund Me page has been started and donations of supplies have been coming in.
“We’ve been very blessed with a lot of people reaching out with resources to help us. And are so thankful for all of the support from everyone,” said Hallie Sparks.
Science teacher and Athletic Director Missy Sparks said, “It’s been incredibly humbling, all of the help and support everyone has given. One person even stayed the entire night on Monday to make sure the pumps kept running. God is so good and He will get us through this.”
So much work was accomplished today. Dumpsters were filled, dumped and refilled. Water was being removed from the floors. Items were sorted and cleaned. Tomorrow (Wed.) will be sanitizing and cleaning day with bleach.
CCA Principal Williams said “We were devastated. But the Lord’s taking care of us and we have so many volunteers to step in and help. We really appreciate all of the help and donations.”If you would like to help: CCA could use: paper towels, clorox wipes, rubber dishwashing gloves, fans and bleach. https://www.gofundme.com/f/62ga6-flood-cleanup?qid=5285483f22c627f45fe254b7584da84d