It appears that when Mother Nature heard that "Make a Splash at Your Library" was going to be the theme of the Haxton Memorial Library's upcoming summer reading program, she took it a bit too literally.
Interim Library Director and Children's Librarian Kimberly Gibson met with a surprise when she came into work on Monday morning. She went downstairs to the children's room, followed by a group of youngsters eager for story hour...only to find the place flooded up to her ankles.
She called in Warren's Carpet Cleaning Service to take care of the problem -- which was no easy task.
"It took two full days to to dry the place out," Gibson said. "And they had to use 10 huge blowers and two humungous dehumidifiers."
The water extended from it's point of origin (which is inside the room slightly right of center, behind the table) all the way to the carpet used for story hours and also sideways to where the stairs are located.
The Warren's employees on the job told Gibson it was lucky she contacted them when she did, because the humidity was already at a very dangerous level.
"We probably would have lost all of our carpeting and everything if we'd waited much longer," Gibson said.
Things could have been a lot worse, and the place is steadily drying out. The saddest part of this whole ordeal for Gibson, though, is that she had just purchased 22 ocean-related books for the summer reading program, and 13 of them were completely ruined.
"I don't think we're going to be able to salvage them," she said. "It's crushing, because I worked so hard to plan these programs, and I bought these books because I thought the kids would really like them. In fact I was just getting ready to put them on display."
The flooding resulted from this past weekend's continual torrential rain -- which, according to Library Trustee Ann Engel, Oakfield residents are saying amounted to about two and a half inches.
Gibson said the same thing happened six years ago.
"We've been lucky not to have anything happen in six years," she said. "But this time it was worse than before."
In spite of this misfortune, Gibson has tried to remain upbeat and to keep her leadership mentality all along. After the initial shock of discovery on Monday morning, she immediately resolved to "just stay focused and get things taken care of as soon as possible."
"She's a trooper," another library trustee said of Gibson.
Still, Gibson, the library's two other staff members, and the board of trustees would gladly accept any assistance the community would be willing to provide. Gibson said that monetary donations would be especially helpful.
"We have a small budget here at Haxton, and this is obviously going to cost more money than we had planned on spending. With the cost of the books [that were ruined] and the bill for Warren's services, we would certainly welcome any monetary assistance."
The Haxton Library has basic insurance, but they are hoping that they will not need to turn to that to pay for the damages.
"We have a $2,500 deductible," Gibson said, "so we don't want to go to our insurance unless we have to. We don't know what the overall cost will be yet, but hopefully it won't exceed that. Plus, I'm not sure if flood damage is covered, since that kind of thing is fairly unusual in this area of the country."
Gibson arranged for all children's activities to be held upstairs this week, but she hopes to have the children's room open to patrons again on Monday.