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Schools step up to help students affected by flood

LAWRENCEVILLE - When flood waters destroyed more than 100 mobile homes at Countryside Village of Atlanta in Lawrenceville, several families with children at Bethesda Elementary lost all their belongings.

Unsure of what to do, the families turned to the school for help. And the school responded.

In a portable classroom, the Berkmar cluster school has created a store of clothing, shoes, toiletries, children's toys and school supplies for families affected by the flood. The trailer has been packed full of clothing that has come from as far away as Pennsylvania, principal Deborah Harris said Friday, the fifth day the store had been open.

Much of the clothing was donated by Duncan Creek Elementary, a Mill Creek cluster school that has "adopted" Bethesda, Harris said. Duncan Creek organized a clothing drive for Bethesda, and dozens of bags of clothes have been brought to the Lawrenceville school.

Bethesda has also received gift cards to give to families to help with personal needs, Harris said. The school has also prepared a list of agencies that can provide the families with even more help.

While the school has been helping families with their physical needs, it has also been supporting students' emotional needs.

"It's hard when you're a child and you lose everything," Harris said.

Compounding the grief, some members of the school community are mourning the loss of the Lawrenceville woman who died in the flood. Seydi Burciaga's son attends the school, and her mother works there, Harris said.

It's an emotional time, but Harris said she knows it's important to help the families.

"We're a team," Harris said. "They've supported the school, so now we're supporting them."