‘We’re going to build back better’: Burdine Elementary School students back in the classroom following severe flood damage

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Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 7:05 PM EDT
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JENKINS, Ky. (WYMT) - Following severe flooding in late July, many homes, businesses, and even schools were damaged. One school that saw damage was Burdine Elementary in the Jenkins community of Letcher County.

Despite the damage to the school, students returned to the classrooms of Burdine Elementary on September 19th after extensive sanitization and, in some cases, demolition.

“We had to remove all the flooring in the building, we had to remove all the mastic glue that was under the flooring, and so it’s been a real challenge to get all that done in order to get our students back in school,” said Jenkins Independent Schools Superintendent Damian Johnson.

Things look a bit different this school year following the flood damage. There is no tile on the floors, only exposed concrete. Playground equipment was carried downstream. Pre-K students are also meeting in a separate building after their classroom was destroyed.

“Our playground was destroyed, preschool is completely decimated, there’s nothing left,” said Burdine Elementary School Principal Amanda Anderson. “Our fence is gone, so we can’t even take our kids outside to play a game with dodgeball or anything like that right now.”

Students, faculty, and staff are quick to overlook the blemishes to the building and are thankful and excited to be back in the classroom.

“Once you put babies back inside and smiling staff that’s ready to teach and students that are ready to learn, I barely noticed the floors, but we’re going to build back better,” said Anderson.

Officials also see this as an opportunity to grow and expand the school.

“We’re going to have a better facility,” said Johnson, ”We’re going to have a new preschool room, we’re going to have new floors throughout this building, we’ll have a new playground as an end result of this, and it’s just an opportunity for us to build back better.”

Both Anderson and Johnson added that they, as well as their families, all attended Burdine Elementary and it is important to them to ensure this school returns to its former glory and then some.