By Katy Savage
About 53 children were displaced after the pipes of the Rutland Parent Child Center on Chaplin Avenue broke Sunday, Nov. 25.
There were at least 3 inches of water on both floors of the two-story building when Director Mary Zigman arrived at the location Sunday afternoon.
“It’s been a rough go,” said Zigman, who worked for a week to get the building cleaned. “The building has been completely gutted,” she said.
Zigman is working with insurance companies. She was not sure how much the damages would cost.
“This is an extraordinary stressor for us,” said Zigman, who explained the flood added to budget challenges the Rutland Parent Child Center already faces.
“Even our fish died,” she said.
Zigman said the building will need new ceilings, floors, walls and lighting. She anticipated new electrical work would be needed as well.
The pipes broke above the cribs where infants sleep. Zigman said no children were in the building at the time and nobody was hurt. However, dozens of parents who rely on the child center lost work as a result.
Eric Taur, whose 3-year-old daughter attends preschool every day, said he missed three days of work last week. He and his wife both work full time. Their daughter Lilly has attended the the child center every day for the past year.
“On one hand, our child was out of school for an entire week and on the other, we had an obligation to our jobs,” he said.
Tonia Huizenga’s 4-year-old grandson, who attended the center last April, was also thrown out of his normal routine.
“He missed his teacher who is absolutely amazing,” Huizenga said.
Zigman said it would be months before the child center is ready to reopen, though she didn’t have an exact estimate.
In the meantime, area community centers are taking in extra children.
On Monday Dec. 3, 3-5 year-old children from the Rutland Parent Child Center began temporarily attending the Children’s Discovery Center for Early Learning on Juneberry Lane, off Hickory Street.
Infants and toddlers, ages 6 weeks to 3 years, started attending school at the Baptist Church at 81 Center Street.
“It’s a little hectic, but everybody worked together really well,” said Discovery Center Director Mary Gilmond.
Gilmond said the Discover Center extended its 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. hours to 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. to accommodate parents.
Teachers from the parent child center are continuing to work with the children they have been teaching.
Zigman doesn’t know what caused the pipes to break.
“It’s not a new building,” she said.
Zigman said she’s been in “survival mode” for the past week trying to find new school buildings for the teachers and students.
“What important to me is that we continue to deliver our services,” she said.