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On Dec. 29, unrelenting rains sent mud, debris and several feet of water through ArtSpace Charter School, causing overwhelming damage. The torrential rains collapsed an embankment next to the school, sending more mud and water into its building.

Walls, floors, furnishings, supplies and carpet were damaged beyond repair. Today, ArtSpace is still in recovery mode.

A major hurdle to overcome has been the school’s flood insurance - the policy had a $25,000 deductible. The school created a crowdfunding campaign at youcaring.com for help (you can still donate there by searching for the school’s name).

Recovery has been slow but steady.

“We have recovered the classrooms, put down new carpet in every carpeted space and recovered most of the walls,” said Josh Batenhorst, enterprise and development manager for the school. “However, we still have a lot to do.

“We have an engineer working on a new stormwater plan for the campus. Some of the work that we need to do, including replacing tile, baseboards and other jobs, will wait until summer.”

Months after the flooding, the total tally of damages has yet to be determined.

“This is one of the frustrating parts of the whole project,” Batenhorst said. “We still haven’t gotten a final number from our insurance adjusters. We have received more than $60,000 in cash donations from families, friends, businesses and community members to date. We have also received some great in-kind donations.”

Batenhorst said that more than 100 volunteers have given over 1,200 hours of labor to helping clean the school and replace what was destroyed.

Erin Carr, communications and marketing coordination, was not surprised by the number of volunteers who turned out to help the school.

“The strength of the community has proven itself over and over again in my history when it opened” in 2001, said Carr. “I have always been thankful and proud that I am connected to such a giving group. We have received so much (help) from the community beyond ArtSpace and are thankful. My hope is that when we have the engineering plan we will be able to have continued help to make it a reality.

“All money past the deductible (insurance) will be used to move forward with the master plan to address the water and erosion issues.”

Since the rain and mud damage happened during ArtSpace’s winter break, the students missed only two days of classes.

“I think it is important for the community to know that ArtSpace Charter School is in business and continues to work on the long-term fix,” Batenhorst said. “We are moving forward, but it is not a fast process. Plans must be engineered, pass inspection at the county level and then, as an entity that uses public funds, we must go through a competitive bidding process.

“We are happy to be back at school and are accepting applications for next year. Applications are due March 7.”

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Read or Share this story: https://www.blackmountainnews.com/story/news/local/2016/03/02/artspace-charter-school-recovers-flood-slowly/81218750/