LILBURN - After being closed for two weeks, St. John Neumann Regional Catholic School will reopen Monday.
When the Yellow River rose Sept. 21, water seeped into the Lilburn school, trickling down the stairs and soaking the carpets in the basement-level classrooms.
That flood followed the stormwater runoff that backed into the school the night before because of a blocked drain, sending two inches of water into the school's front hallway and media center, said Nancy Puckett, the assistant principal.
"It was like a one-two punch," Puckett said.
The stormwater runoff that came into the school was discovered by principal James Anderson about 5:45 a.m. Sept. 21. Administrators rushed to get the message out that school was canceled for the day.
But the discovery of the wet floors wasn't the only devastating event that day. Anderson got a call that his father's lung collapsed, and Puckett urged him to go to Florida and be with his family.
While school officials worked to get the school ready for students the next day, they noticed the Yellow River rising behind the school. The evening of Sept. 21, school officials called teachers and told them they might want to come get their things off their classroom floors.
"Monday is when we got hit with the Yellow River wanting to take up residence," Puckett said. "It just kept raining, and the river kept rising."
While the flood sent just enough water into the school to ruin the carpets and some drywall, it sent 18 inches of water into the gym. When the river crested, the school's parking lot was under eight feet of water.
After the water receded, contractors started to tackle the clean-up work: scrubbing the air to prevent mold growth, ripping up carpets and tiles and replacing drywall. Meanwhile, Anderson was with his family during his father's last days.
"It just made our situation even more sad that all these situations came to play at the same time," Puckett said.
While the school was closed, parents of students and nearby residents stopped by to bring the bare-bones staff lunch.
Nearly two weeks after the flood, the school - part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta - is ready to welcome back students. The school educates nearly 550 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Anna Koscelski, the school's development director, said the school is welcoming donations. Send checks payable to St. John Neumann Regional Catholic School to 791 Tom Smith Road, Lilburn, GA 30047.