Community comes together for flooded Hayden day care center

Katina Kline holds a small ribbon cutting ceremony for the kids at Katina's Wee Care Center on Wednesday, May 31.
Kit Geary/ Steamboat Pilot & Today

It was 2 a.m. on April 13 when Katina Kline received a reverse 911 call.

Her neighbors on West Jefferson Ave. in Hayden had contacted law enforcement after they noticed a foot-and-a-half of water surrounding her day care center. Floodwaters had made their way into the daycare, and quickly started causing damage. 

Kline had checked on the day care the night before at 11 p.m. and she lived only 10 feet away from it. How did she miss 18 inches worth of flooding in mere hours? 

The flooding, for some reason, seemed to dodge her house while hitting the daycare hard. With her livelihood a foot-and-a-half under water, Kline was devastated.

Was this the end of Katina’s Wee Care Center? Kline, at the time, thought so, as she watched eight years of hard work seemingly succumb to the flooding. 

“As the baby dolls were floating in the water and the alarms were going, I was feeling very defeated,” Kline said. “I knew there was nothing I could do to save all that was already under water.” 

Kline’s mother, Phyllis Moore, described the flooding as all-encompassing. The foot-and-a-half of water throughout the day care had ruined the main play area, the kitchenette and the bathroom. 

Katina’s Wee Care Center initially was rendered unusable following intense flooding.
Katina’s Wee Care Center/ Courtesy photo

This devastation didn’t last long, thanks to a community that came together essentially overnight to get the operation back up and running. 

“I can’t afford to close my doors,” Kline said. “The support started with my clientele who started a GoFundMe page. Next thing you know, we got volunteers coming over ripping walls out, ripping flooring out, the whole nine yards.”

Hannah and Brian Ernhart’s family quickly began organizing the GoFundMe page, which ultimately raised upwards of $4,200.  

Bob Rowe, with Alpine Heating and Sheet Metal, showed up to Katina’s Wee Care Center ready to offer his services. Nathan and Mike Huyser, owners of Huyser Drywall, came in to help as well. Jim Ough, of Black Lab Electric, and Scott Hansen, with Hansen Mechanical, also provided their assistance.

Before long, Katina’s Wee Care Center had its own construction team. 

Unsung hero Oryan Kuchyt came to help not just the day care, but the surrounding neighborhood on West Jefferson Ave. as well. According to Kline, Oryan stayed up for hours on end pumping outwater for the neighborhood. 

Kline reached out to Stephanie Howle at First Impressions Routt and she was able to help Katina’s Wee Care Center with funding from the state, through the Routt County Early Childhood Community Plan.

“A thank you to these people just doesn’t seem enough as I hear the children run, play and laugh in the day care center again,” Kline said. 

Despite the facility being rendered unusable after the flood, Kline’s day care was only closed for a day. She refused to let 18 inches of flooding leave families without someone to watch their children. 

Community members came together to rebuild Katina’s Wee Care Center.
Katina’s Wee Care Center/ Courtesy photo

Once word made it out to the community, a crew was assembled to get the necessary construction completed on the day care. Meanwhile, Katina’s Wee Care Center set up shop at a daycare in Steamboat initially, and then in the Hayden Congregational Church. 

Kline was able to keep operations running for four weeks before getting back to her usual location.

Finally, on Wednesday, Kline had a small ribbon-cutting ceremony with the kids to celebrate being able to remain in the beloved location on West Jefferson. 

As 2-year-old River Ernhart ate a sugar cookie, he nodded his head to confirm that he is grateful to be back.

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