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All 40,000 books removed from Chipley library following flooding by Hurricane Sally

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 3:53 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -

Before Hurricane Sally, 40,000 books filled these shelves of the Washington County Library in Chipley.

Hundreds possibly thousands were destroyed by the rainfall.

“Our bottom bookshelves, all of those books and materials were soaked so we threw out a good portion of our picture book collection because it was ruined for children and then we lost a large bit of our large print in our adult side,” says the library director Renae Rountree.

The other books were packed and removed before humidity ruined them too.

“I’m very grateful that our county and our city have moved very quickly in order for us to save what we still had on our shelves,” says Rountree.

The biggest fear is that books that storm stole books that cannot be replaced.

“There are always those books that become out of print that you can’t get any more so we are just concerned that might be a portion of our loss,” says Rountree.

Even beyond the books, the library is a community-focused staple.

“They do so many functions from serving meals to just having meetings to providing books for anyone from children to adults. All of that is shut down,” says Chipley city administrator Dan Maner.

With wall, carpet, and furniture damage and no reopening date within sight, but eventually, they will be able to serve again.

It will just take some time.

In the meantime, they are moving their operations to other branches in Washington County, staying optimistic, and using this as a learning opportunity.

“Never stop learning. The more you learn better you are prepared for the next thing that’s going to come and the reality of it is that there’s always going to be another disaster headed your way. You just have to keep a good attitude and keep on tugging on,” says Rountree.

The books that survived the storm have been moved into these climate-controlled semi-trucks and will remain here until it is safe for them to return inside.

The library’s collection was covered by insurance.

The staff says it okay for members to hold onto books or return them to other library branches.

Next door to the library, Hurricane Sally left about twenty inches of water inside of Chipley city hall.

Officials tried to get files and computers off the ground before the storm hit, but some still ended up underwater.

It’s estimated that the city hall will be closed for the next three to four months.

In the meantime official, will be working out of an office on Main Street.

Copyright 2020 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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