A flood of raw sewage has closed a Cobb preschool, and the county water department is taking responsibility for the incident that left teachers without jobs and forced parents to find new child care.
Kompany Kids at 296 Interstate North Circle near Smyrna has been closed since Nov. 27 after a “massive amount of sewage came up through every single toilet and flooded our entire school,” said Robert Johnson, vice president with the company.
The children and staff were evacuated from the school and a remediation company was called in to assess the spill. The building, which is about 10,000 square feet, is uninhabitable and the entire space has been gutted, Johnson said.
Kompany Kids, a private school, has been at the location since 1990. Johnson said the preschool had about 110 children enrolled and employed 30 to 35 teachers. It has found temporary space, but Johnson said Cobb County’s fire marshal wouldn’t approve a certificate of occupancy because the facility didn’t meet required standards.
It’s also found a program could accept up to 30 children, but that’s less than half of Kompany Kids’ enrollment.
“Our ability to stay in business is very, very slim,” Johnson said, adding that they’ve had to lay off most of the staff. “This incident has basically destroyed our business.”
Cobb spokesman Ross Cavitt said the county has accepted responsibility for the spill, but can’t be held liable for sewage incidents. He said the water system determined the sewage overflow was the result of a clog of grease and other debris “not caused by any deficiency in our system.”
The building’s owner has hired an independent auditor to conduct an assessment of the building, he said.
“We are working with the property owner in good faith,” Cavitt said. “We can only cover structural losses.”
Once the county sees the report, it will move forward with finalizing its cost for repairs. Cavitt said the county is also willing to help with any short-term relocation needs for Kompany Kids.
Johnson said the company thought its insurance policy included provisions that covered any costs associated with business interruptions. However, Johnson said that its insurance company has denied Kompany Kids’ claim.
Johnson said at least half of the customers Kompany Kids had before the incident have found other child care. Since it could take up to four months to complete the rebuild, Johnson said the business “will probably have lost all of our teachers and all of our customers.”
“We are still looking for existing schools with which to partner and we still hold out hope that we can survive, but we are facing major challenges,” he said.
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