CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - In mid-June, powerful winds swept through Cedar Rapids, tearing off part of the gymnasium roof at Trinity Lutheran School. That created an opening for heavy rains that poured in, soaking the gym's hardwood floor. At that point Mark Mueller, the school's director of operations, had just stepped up to fill that position after the school's previous principal left for another job.
“We just got the roof finished two weeks ago, repaired,” Mueller said Wednesday. “They got the two layers of sub-floor down and they just finished nailing the maple down this morning.”
Look back to June, and the school's gym was unfit to play in, the damaged roof and water-warped hardwood rendering it all but useless. Now, it's almost ready for the squeak of sneakers and the thumping of basketballs bouncing up and down the court. Mueller said all that's left is a little sanding, some paint, and a couple coats of oil.
Down the hall, 6th grade teacher Josie Hester is preparing her classroom for students.
“It's definitely been an unusual summer,” Hester said as she updated the iPads students will use for their class projects. Not long after the June windstorm, another round of heavy rain pushed 2 inches of water into her classroom.
“There was quite a mess to clean up, and coming in with water in here, thankfully I had everything picked up and stowed away, so it was just a matter of getting it cleaned up,” Hester explained.
Mueller said he owes a lot of that cleanup effort to teachers like Hester and volunteers who put in hours of hard work, following the one-two punch of severe weather.
“Even families from area churches that send their students to school here came and helped clean up and they've been around helping paint,” Hester explained.
Repairs here weren't cheap, after Mueller's initial estimate of around $100,000 was off the mark.
“I was close, but we're over,” Mueller said, laughing. “Yeah, we're over somewhat significantly.”
But he and faculty members now say the storms were a blessing in disguise, letting the school's insurance take care of big upgrades they would have had to raise money for. All that's left is to open the doors and let students enjoy those upgrades.
“We're ready to go,” Mueller told us. “So if the kids are ready to go, we'll be off to a good start.”
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