It’s been a long winter for children and their families in the Bellport area who had to go without the tremendous resource that is the South Country Library children’s wing.
The library’s southern wing has been off limits ever since a faulty sprinkler head caused flood damage in early January (photos below).
Now four months later, the area reopened Thursday morning.
And it’s better than ever.
The flood damage was discovered on a Monday morning, Jan. 8, and initially it was believed to be a burst pipe after a deep freeze.
The insurance company later discovered the faulty sprinkler head.
“It was just an accident,” said Patrick O’Leary, the library’s assistant director. “Everything that took a direct hit [from the water] just turned to mush, like all the books, and DVDs and CDs. But most of what was around it, that received some water, we were able to dry out.”
The restoration work required a new ceiling and a new carpet throughout the spacious, sun-splashed room. The library was also able to add new LED lighting with the insurance proceeds.
But they also took the opportunity to give the place even more of a facelift after 17 years. Now there’s all-new computer stations, countertops, toys and furniture — that includes a multi-use table for families that’s outfitted with outlets and USB ports for tablets and phones.
They also repainted.
“We were able to do more than just fix the repairs,” said O’Leary.
He said the outpouring of support the library received from the South Country community during the ordeal was “just awesome.”
Donations came in, along with people who wanted to volunteer to help, he said.
“We’re just very excited to have the kids back” said O’Leary. “We’ve been getting calls, emails Ú we’ve had people in the bushes looking in, desperate to come back, which is a compliment. We’re happy people want to get back in here so bad.
“We wish it could have been sooner but we think people will be happy.”