After a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday three-day weekend, Child and Youth Services staff at Fort Knox's Child Development Center facility walked into a water disaster early Jan. 22. A large CPVC toilet supply line pipe in one of the bathrooms had ruptured and filled an entire wing of Bldg. 4250 with four inches of water.

Rayceil Oggs, chief of Child, Youth and School Services, said she woke to the news. Parents would start dropping their children off about 40 minutes later.

"I got the call about 4:50. I thought I was dreaming," said Oggs. "We had the plan by 5:30 that morning. Everything was chaotic, but we had a plan and kind of perfected it as the day went by."

Oggs said she had to involve many different forces for dispersing children throughout other locations around the installation while getting repairs started.

"The staff responded so wonderfully, and the entire CYS team, DPW and everybody rallied together so well that even on our very first day, we were able to accommodate all our full-day children because we did not want mission readiness to be impacted by this," said Oggs. "We now have children spread in five different locations."

Children are now being housed in Bldg. 4249 -- the upper building adjoining 4250 -- Bldg. 500 where the CYS administration staff works, Hansen Center, Gammon Physical Fitness Center and the Religious Education Center. Oggs said the staff, with the support of garrison leadership, worked out many of the kinks throughout Tuesday, including redirecting Families to the correct buildings for their children.

Officials at the Directorate of Public Works said plans are already underway to dry out the water, repair walls and floors, fix the busted pipe, and reopen the center by mid-February.

Chris Karlsen, deputy director of DPW, said the volume of water leads them to believe the pipe most likely busted shortly after the close of business on Friday.

"It's unfortunate. It had to have happened as soon as everybody went home Friday night," said Karlsen. "It went the whole weekend. That's why we got such extensive damages, but we do have a solid fix."

Karlsen said the post maintenance contract team responded quickly and professionally.

"The team responded very fast and have worked tirelessly," said Karlsen. "The cleanup was underway immediately and the dehumidification has been ongoing since."

Karlsen said some of the work has included drilling holes in the shelving units and cubbies, airing everything out, dehumidifying the building and spraying to ensure mold doesn't grow. They are also going the extra mile in taking precautionary measures to ensure the incident doesn't happen again.

One of those measures is replacing all the piping in the bathroom rather than just the one pipe.
Oggs admitted that although the adjustments and mitigation efforts have been superb, there have still been some setbacks for them, including difficult decisions that have had to be made.

"Because of this and all the full-time children we had to accommodate, we had to temporarily suspend our hourly care program and our part-day program," said Oggs. "That's the sad part because those are some very valuable customers and very loyal in coming and bringing their children in."

Oggs said they can't accommodate the hourly and part-time care programs because of a lack of facilities and staff. However, Friday night care will continue as usual, although in Bldg. 4249. Saturday care, set for the first Saturday in February, may be affected.

"I'm stretched out so much right now, I'm at a point where I can't take on anything else," said Oggs. "Even though I'm spread out, my commitment is still to provide quality child care."

Oggs said once repairs are complete, fire, health and safety officials will inspect to ensure the children return to a safe environment in which to learn.