Flooded therapy center reopens, company agrees to clean for free

CRYSTAL LAKE – On Thursday, Traci Leigh contemplated shutting down her therapy center for good.

The Midwest Center for Children’s Development, a Crystal Lake nonprofit that uses horses and other therapy techniques for children with disabilities, was almost nearly surrounded by water after last week’s heavy thunderstorms dropped several inches of rain in the area in a short time.

Leigh and other employees believed if they couldn’t reopen the doors by Saturday, the center would not have enough money for the cleanup and would have to shut down.

The center’s staff worked 12-hour days to clean equipment and set up a therapy arena in the small area of the 17-acre farm that wasn’t flooded. On Saturday, the center was able to open its doors to assist nearly 30 patients.

Leigh then got more good news: A local sanitation company agreed to do the entire flood cleanup for free.

JT Maier, president of AdvantaClean, visited the Midwest Center for Children’s Development on Friday and offered his company’s services to the nonprofit.

“It’s incredible because we’re not sure if the insurance is going to cover a lot of the damage here,” said Leigh, the center’s equine manager. “It just saves us a ton of money that we don’t have because everything we make goes back into the program. It’s a huge donation on their part. It means a lot.”

Maier said he initially agreed to cover half of the cleanup charges, but eventually decided to provide the service at no cost.

“I gave it more thought and prayer, and decided that it was the right thing to do,” Maier said. “I can afford to do it because the flood has given me enough business to cover the expenses.”

Maier estimates the cleanup would have cost the center between $6,000 and $10,000.

The four-day process, which began Monday, will involve cleaning with anti-fungal, anti-microbial and disinfectant chemicals to remove bacteria caused from water contaminated by horse feces. AdvantaClean also will break apart office walls to remove mold so the building can fully dry.

Others in the community also reached out to assist in the recovery, Leigh said. One woman came by with a pump Friday to help remove water. Parents of patients offered to donate furniture and appliances that were ruined from the contaminated floodwater. And Nunda Township officials dug bigger reservoirs so the water could drain better.

“Sometimes it takes a tragedy to make a community come together,” Leigh said.

She believes the center can get back to its pre-flood operation level by Saturday, something Leigh couldn’t imagine last week.

“Our main goal is to take care of these families that go through so much every day,” she said. “Our goal was to get these kids in for therapy on Saturday. We did it, so I’m happy.”

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