SEK library reopens after suffering flood damage

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BAXTER SPRINGS, Ks. — Two years ago, a devastating flood resulted in the doors being closed at the Johnston Public Library in Baxter Springs. The long road to recovery was made even longer thanks to the pandemic. Now – a sense of normalcy has returned and the doors have re-opened.

Mary Hixon, Board of Directors President, said, “It just felt like just one thing after another, just making decisions constantly.”

On October 23rd 2019, the Johnston Public Library woke up to one of their worst nightmares.

Andrea Bresee, Johnston Public Library Director, said, “We had a pipe burst in the attic, and it went from the second floor, flooded half of that floor and went on down to the first floor and literally rained into the first floor.”

It damaged over 1,000 books and DVD’s in the library. They had to close their doors while they remodeled.

“We couldn’t even get into the building because of construction, the books were inaccessible.”

Mary Hixon, Board of Directors President, said, “People were very concerned about what to do with their items and how they were going to check out books, use the facility,” said Hixon.

However they were able to band together through renovations and were preparing to open up again in April last year, but they ran into another problem.

“We saw the finish line and the pandemic hit, thankfully though it gave us a month to breathe and get our bearings,” said Bresee.

As restrictions lessened, little by little, they began to reopen once again. Now they’re preparing to bring back a big part of Baxter Springs Summer.

“National story tellers, children’s performers come into town. A lot of our kids that come in the Summer, they don’t have time to come in during the Fall and Winter and they get here for the Summer and it’s really fun.”

Returning to fonder – more normal memories.

“Several months ago we were happy to have jobs and now it’s nice to do our jobs the normal way. To have it completely open now is wonderful.”

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