MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
May 7 at the Children's Center off Madison Avenue in Montgomery. A flooded parking lot quickly became a lot more than a small pond.
"Everybody was calm," said Executive Director Cynthia McCaghren.
McCaghren prides herself on being cool under pressure. After all she runs a school that serves typical children and those with severe disabilities. On that day when the River Region was terribly surprised with 10 inches of rain in two hours and flash-floods, nature tested McCaghren's fortitude to the hilt.
"We never saw flooding like we did that day," McCaghren said.
The photos tell the story. Dark and ominous, the flood waters got waist high, spilling everywhere except down the drain. 25 children, ages 3,4 and 5, were learning in the wing building of the Children's Center, oblivious to the turmoil with the weather outside, although Shiron Bookins sensed this wouldn't be just another day.
"It got dark and we had seen the heavy rain," said Bookins.
Little did Bookins know that McCaghren had already started the rescue.
"I came back here to see if we had an issue back here and we did," McCaghren remembered.
McCaghren made the quick decision to move all the children into Bookins' classroom. Outside, Desmond McDaniel was among the 8 staffers who had formed an assembly line, workers who stood in waist-deep flood waters. Their job? Make sure the kids stayed high and dry. They literally picked them up and handed them to the next person and so on, all the way up the ramp.
"We lifted two at a time and just passed them on," said McDaniel.
It really was a race against time. Another 5 or 10 minutes there would have been a major problem.
"Any longer we would have had a crisis situation," said McCaghren.
"Possibly we could have had issues," said Bookins.
Today, this part of the Children's Center is on the mend. A dry parking lot and a bit of reflection on a job well done.
"By seeing the pictures and all the water, we did something remarkable," Bookins said.
Remarkable and decisive, making a difference in the face of a raging storm.
We're told the children kind of had fun with the ordeal and found it entertaining. They never got scared according to the staff.
Email Bryan Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know someone making a difference in their community.