Repairs ongoing at McSwain Elem. Unified School District, students could return within a week

Jessica Harrington Image
Monday, January 16, 2023
Repairs ongoing at McSwain Elem. Unified School District, students could return within a week
EMBED <>More Videos

It has been all hands on deck to try to get students back to class in some of the most impacted areas in the North Valley.

PLANADA, Calif. (KFSN) -- It has been all hands on deck to try to get students back to class in some of the most impacted areas in the North Valley.

While work is still under way in Planada, McSwain Elementary Union School District in Merced County is hoping to get its doors back open within the next week.

As of Sunday night, students are expected to return on January 23, but that return date could be sooner.

Superintendent Andrew Kersten was walking the grounds of his two schools Sunday as crews worked throughout the day to get things back in order.

"We won't open without our kids being safe." Kersten said.

The school has been surrounded by flood water.

The two campus are across the street from one another.

Most of the week, the road that separated them looked like a river.

The water came close, but thankfully didn't make it inside the classrooms.

"We consider ourselves lucky because, even though our grounds are completely inundated and under water, all of our buildings remain dry." Kersten said.

Because of their luck, Kersten has been able to keep a sense of humor about the destruction, including the soccer field that was still underwater Sunday.

"That's our new 'Lake McSwain'." Kersten joked.

Merced County crews were helping pump the water out Sunday.

County Supervisor Darren McDaniel was on hand to provide anything he could to get the district back up and running.

"Everybody was looking at the city of Merced and looking at Planada, but what folks didn't understand is that this little portion of McSwain got hit probably the hardest and was probably under water the longest." McDaniel said.

Electricians will be visiting the site Monday to make sure everything is working properly.

The septic tanks were checked Sunday and environmental services already checked the water to make sure its safe.

And the new 'Lake McSwain' will be cleared out before kids are back on campus.

The superintendent hopes that will be sooner than later.

"We will be back. Mustang pride will live on and we will see you soon and coming together as a community, we can do anything." Kersten said.

Kersten said parents will be notified with an official return date Monday January 16 in the afternoon or evening.