School ruined by flood opens in time for first day

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COBB COUNTY, Ga. - In September 2009, flooding destroyed Clarkdale Elementary School in Austell.

The flooding turned the building into a muddy mess, saturating the ceilings as debris littered the halls. But over the weekend, supporters got a look at the new and improved school that will welcome students as they head back to school on Aug. 13.

The principal called the school a mansion compared to the original building.

With the ribbon cut, community leaders, neighbors, teachers and students rushed into see the new Clarksdale.

Inside, Channel 2's Sophia Choi found shiny halls, brand new classrooms and even a turtle pond.

"The community and kids and the parents, they deserve this," teacher Sandy Moss said. "It's amazing to be all back together. It's been a long three years."

Moss recalled the day of the flood. She said teachers worked feverishly to evacuate students as the school filled with water from floor to ceiling. Since then, students attended classes at two other elementary schools.

Close to 700 students will attend the new school, built to relieve overcrowding with funds from several agencies including FEMA and Cobb County.

Loseanne Leng, a Clarksdale alumna, remembered going to the school as a child.

"Clarksdale wasn't the building, it was the teachers," she said.

Cooper Zeckman, 6, will be attending first grade at the new school in about a week.

"I just want to see the whole building," he said.

Community supporters, meanwhile, are looking forward to all of the students having a good year in a new place.