The story of what happened to the Kreative Kids Christian Academy building in Marathon is one that’s been told over and over again in the past five months: It was destroyed in Hurricane Irma.
The structure at mile marker 49.5 oceanside, like many other buildings destroyed in the Sept. 10 storm, is one of many throughout Irma-ravaged Monroe County that has undergone a revamp.
Final coats of paint were being applied to new walls at the school Tuesday. In another week or so, the doors will open again and children up to age 5 will be able to return to the preschool. After-school programs are also held there.
“This building hadn’t been touched in 40 years,” said Chad Neller, manager for Reefside Renovations and Construction, adding it was about time for an upgrade.
After saltwater flooded the building and destroyed the floor, walls, playground and fences on the property — the roof was also wrecked — the learning center, which primarily serves low-income families, needed total renovation.
“Everything went under water. I lost computers, files, cabinets and everything,” said Director Maria Valient.
With a grant from the nonprofit Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, the renovation was possible. Kreative Kids was one of roughly 30 throughout Monroe that received a portion of the grant totaling almost $200,000.
While the work was being done, Kreative Kids was run out of the Adult Education Center on the property of Stanley Switlik Elementary School. That building is now set for demolition, so other arrangements had to be made by parents until the renovated building opens again.
That can be difficult for working parents, evidenced by the number of enrolled students now compared to before the storm. Currently, there are 36 students signed up, while prior to the storm the center was serving 58, a representative said.
But the new building should open soon, Neller said. It just needs an inspection by the Department of Children and Families.
Kreative Kids Christian Academy is one of 34 child care providers throughout Monroe County serving kids from infancy through age 5 under the Early Learning Coalition. It serves children up to age 5 via its pre-school program and children 5 to 10 through after school programs.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219