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Flood-damaged preschool in Weston aims to reopen for the school year

A photo of a pavement path leading through a field of grass to a white building. The ground is covered in sand and small chunks of pavement.
Monica Keith
Last month, five feet of water stood in the basement of The Little School in Weston. Water destroyed the school's electrical panels, alarm system, boiler and playground.

Over a hundred people showed up to clear debris from The Little School in Weston a week after the flooding last month. The preschool rents a nearly 200-year-old building from the town that sits a few hundred feet from the West River.

At the peak of the flood, 5 feet of water stood in the basement. The water damaged the electrical panels, alarm system, boiler and water heater. Toys and toddler’s socks floated downstream. The playhouse was tipped over and ruined. The school’s fences, pavement and playground were destroyed.

Still, the preschool is hopeful they’ll be able to reopen in time for the school year.

“We have over 40 families that are relying on us for child care and education,” said school director Monica Keith. “So the goal is definitely to be back and fully functioning by that first day of school.”

A photo shows a washed out lawn with crumbling pavement. In the background, white fences are leaning over. A small white shed looks undamaged.
Monica Keith
At a recent press conference, Vermont Agency of Education officials said more than a dozen K-12 schools have been damaged from last month's flooding.

Keith, who lives in Andover, couldn’t get to the school until several days after the flooding, when roads were clear enough to leave her home. “Just seeing the school look like it was in the middle of the riverbed was unreal,” she said. “It seemed like it would take years to get back to any kind of resemblance of normal.”

One reason they might be able to open their doors in early September is because of dozens of volunteers who helped clean up the grounds. “That made a world of difference to where it started to feel like, ‘Okay, we can tackle this,’” Keith said.

The community has helped in other ways, too — parents of students have worked as contractors to do repair work, or connected the school with electricians and landscapers. The school has received a number of private donations as they apply for state grants and federal relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Meanwhile, many businesses and homes in Weston have been similarly hard-hit.

“You just drive through and you see everybody emptying out all of their personal belongings into dumpsters,” Keith said. “You just kind of do a head nod in solidarity.”

Across the state, half a dozen K-12 schools have been badly damaged from flooding, state officials said at a recent press conference.

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Lexi covers science and health stories for Vermont Public.
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