Easter Seals director Katie Shepard, left, and contractor Art Kent move furniture in the Easter Seals building Thursday in Medford. Kent is leading a community effort to get the children’s center reopened after it was damaged by flooding. - Julia Moore

Up off the the floor

Community members have thrown their support behind handicapped children to help Easter Seals Oregon as it tries to reopen its flooded building on the corner of McAndrews Road and Columbus Avenue in Medford.

"I'm feeling so much more optimistic today," said Katie Shepard, Rogue Valley area director for Easter Seals.

The site was swamped on Dec. 1, in the midst of several days of rain that dumped nearly 5 inches of precipitation on Medford. Children had to be evacuated from the building when water started pouring into the play area of the former Camp White building that's leased to the agency by the city of Medford.

Under terms of the lease, Easter Seals is responsible for maintenance of the structure, but the city, local contractors and others have come through to help bail out the organization.

"These guys have totally stepped up and said, 'How can we help?' " Shepard said.

The yellow building across from the Santo Center serves as many as 30 children or young adults at a time. They require special attention for disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy. Overall, the local Easter Seals organization serves more than 400 children annually.

Shepard said she hopes the building can be reopened for children for a Dec. 15 day camp.

Workers ripped out a soggy carpet, and fans and a dehumidifier offered by United Rental helped dry out the building.

By Friday, the damp, moldy smell appeared to have dissipated thanks to the drying efforts and disinfectant sprayed on the flooring.

Central Point contractor Art Kent has taken a leadership role in the clean-up effort.

"We're trying to get one of the local stores to donate carpeting," he said. "We're also looking for someone to install — a licensed carpet installer."

Easter Seals is also seeking donations to help with the cleanup to replace toys and equipment.

Anyone willing to help is asked to call 541-842-2199, ext. 301, or stop by 406 S. Riverside Ave., Suite 101.

PremierWest Bank also has set up a fund for the Easter Seals recreation center and has offered to match the donations dollar for dollar.

Kent has also had discussions with city officials about ways to prevent future flooding, including installing a sump pump in the crawl space and installing devices to prevent water from flowing in through vents in the crawl space.

City Councilor Bob Strosser said the building is owned by the city and leased to Easter Seals for $1 a year. He said the city is committed to getting the drainage issues resolved.

"I think these are issues we can and should address," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email

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