Fort Smith school damaged by flooding sets move-back date


FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFTA) — A Bible verse in Psalm 89 describes how God can calm an angry storm. Members of Union Christian Academy in Fort Smith said He’s calming them after flooding forced them out of their home campus.

“We’ve had a little bit of water in the school in the past, but nothing like this,” said Angela Mackey, the school’s Director of Development.

The campus is still closed after floodwaters caused extensive damage last month, forcing students to take classes at two local churches during the lengthy repair process.

“We were excited that we got to get out of school for two days, but the reality hadn’t set in,” said Thomas Lubecke, a senior student. “Like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna be out for school for a month or so.'”

It took a few days to get used to classes at the churches, students said, and the school day starts 15 minutes later. Faculty has adjusted to make sure the learning process is still up to the same standards.

“I knew that it would work out, [that] it’d be fine, but I was a little worried at first,” said Charis Shure, a senior student.

Administrators said they hope the campus is open again when October begins.

“We would love October 1. That’s been our target,” said Ricky Massengale, the Head of School. “I know that’s probably a dream, but hope gives us something to strive for, and if it’s not October 1, we know that it won’t be long after October 1.”

Mackey said the costs of unexpected expenses weren’t cheap. In all, the estimate in out-of-pocket expenses is close to $44,000.

“We have a deductible that we have to pay for that’s a $10,000 deductible,” Mackey said. “We are losing income from our cafeteria, which is probably close to at least $10,000 a month.”

Mackey said the school family’s faith is keeping Union Christian on the right path.

“We know that God is in control of this situation,” Mackey said. “That is our hope and our stay, so we trust Him. We know that He knew the floodwaters were coming, we trust that He had a plan and a purpose in that.”

Students and faculty said they look forward to getting back to the campus they call home.

“We’re excited that we’re gonna have [contractor] work starting next week, so we’re thrilled,” Mackey said. “We can’t wait to get back in, and we’re hoping that we get to have a great homecoming when we get to come back.”

Since the gym isn’t usable, the school’s volleyball team is using the Fort Smith Juniors Volleyball Club for its home matches. Mackey said the community’s help has been vital to the school’s success.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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