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The great flood, five years later | News

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The great flood, five years later

AUSTELL, Ga. (WXIA) – This weekend marks five years since rising flood waters in Cobb County nearly covered the sign at Clarkdale Elementary School, gaining national attention when the school was ruined.


Five years ago, when the rains finally stopped, 11Alive's Donna Lowry stood about a block away from the school. She couldn't go any closer because of all the rising water.

It happened so quickly. Rains that wouldn't stop falling and water that wouldn't stop rising.


"Within three minutes, it had risen three inches," said Cobb County Schools' Jay Dillon. "We couldn't go out in our trailers because it was flooded."

Everyone mobilized to get the kids out of Clarkdale Elementary.

"Four hundred fifty children on buses, wading through ankle-deep water," Dillon said. "That school had been there for 60 years, and had never experienced anything like that."

Neither had the neighborhood. Eighty-seven families of children at Clarkdale lost their homes.

"In all our years as a school system, we'd never lost a school before," he said.

First came immediate help.

"People heard about Clarksale Elementary, and supplies and resources started pouring in," Dillon said. "It renews your faith in humanity that people are out there to help you get though."

They split the students at Clarkdale into two schools for two years while they built a new building about a mile away. It includes a few reminders of the old structure.

Sometimes, you think you're in this ship alone. As the now-retired principal Marjorie Bickerstaff put it --

"Sometimes thing happen for a reason, and wow. Look at what took place, but look what came out of it."