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Uncertain future awaits flooded Crystal Lake children’s therapy center

Published: Friday, June 28, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 28, 2013 12:17 p.m. CDT
(Lathan Goumas – lgoumas@shawmedia.com)
Equine manager Traci Leigh walks through the flooded horse therapy arena Thursday at the Midwest Center for Children’s Development in Crystal Lake. Heavy rains Wednesday caused the flooding of the facility, which uses horses in therapy techniques. The staff had placed the horses in the arena overnight Wednesday and said by Thursday morning water had seeped through the ground up into the arena.

CRYSTAL LAKE – As water in most McHenry County areas began to recede Wednesday night, floodwaters continued to rise around the Midwest Center for Children’s Development.

The Crystal Lake nonprofit, which uses horses and other therapy techniques for children with disabilities, was almost entirely surrounded by water Thursday. Dead corn husks from an adjacent farm clogged the therapy center’s culverts, allowing the water to back up.

The stables, horse therapy arena, offices, waiting rooms and parking lot all were flooded with at least half a foot of water.

Horse feces spread to nearly every corner of the 17-acre farm.

Having canceled most of its Wednesday and all of its Thursday appointments, and looking at what board member Steve Jones estimates as a $1 million cleanup effort, the therapy center faces an uncertain future.

“Basically everything that’s in the building, because of the water quality, has got to go in the dumpsters,” Jones said. “We would have to raise a significant amount of money to keep us going.”

The center’s employees believe if it can’t reopen its doors by Saturday, the business may go under.

“Without income that we have from our families that come in for therapy, we wouldn’t have enough money to run the operation,” said Traci Leigh, equine manager. “We have private donors, but we need to supplement that with seeing clients.”

The center has an area of higher ground where the horses are staying and where some limited therapy can take place. Employees were working feverishly Thursday to create space to work and find a way to open the doors by the weekend.

“If we don’t open our doors on Saturday, we could be gone,” said Mickey Brown, administrative assistant at the therapy center. “That’s what we’re working on today to accomplish.”

The 10-year-old nonprofit has a number of expenses, Brown said, including electricity, staff pay, horse feed and insurance on the property, and shutting down for an extended period is not an option.

“If we closed our doors for a week, we wouldn’t have any way to pay for the cleanup process,” Brown said.

But the center’s biggest concern is its patients, Leigh said.

“We’re here for the patients,” she said. “If we weren’t, we’d be a for-profit facility. What money we do make goes right back into our program.

“It’s really sad, actually.”

To learn more

For information about the Midwest Center of Children’s Development, visit www.mccdtherapy.com

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