Students displaced from flooding ends with ‘happily ever after'

From left to right is Flying Hills Pre-School owner Gretchen Darlingto, Kristen Orndorf, director, Lori Martin, assistant director and Kathy levanga, Happily Ever After, unpacking and preparing for the reopening of the pre-school.

The snow and ice caused a great deal of damage this past winter, but through melting the community together, has resulted in a “happily ever after” ending.

For five weeks, from Feb. 7 through March 13, the educators and children at Flying Hills Pre-School, 11 Village Center Dr., Reading, were displaced from winter damages at the school.

On Feb. 6, the pre-school opened with a two-hour delay only to find that the entirety of the building was flooded with four inches of water.

“It was after we had all that sleet, and freezing rain,” Kathy Levanga, Happily Ever After, said. The Flying Hills Pre-School is located downhill from a shopping complex’s parking lot, but this was the first time in the 31 years of business that the pre-school saw such damage from the weather.


This year marks Happily Ever After’s tenth year in business, but is in their first year renting from The Heritage of Green Hills. Instead of putting parents through the hassle of finding alternative day care, or using their sick days from work, Happily Ever After invited Flying Hills Pre-School owner Gretchen Darlington and her students to her facility, which is conveniently located right across the street.

“The Heritage of Green Hills reached out to us,” Darlington said. “It was have been a disaster for parents and their kids.”

What could have been a true scheduling nightmare, transformed into weeks of field trips for the young and creative.

Levanga’s business hosts children’s parties, family reunions, baby and bridal showers, and offers banquet space for meetings and rentals. The weather related damage brought the pre-school’s Kristen Orndorf, director, and Lori Martin, assistant director, and the children to a fairy tale land.

Stocked with boxes full of costumes, glasses, hats, and boas for dress-up, that she uses with her business, the pre-school children’s experience evolved into a daily adventure. Levanga prompted entertainment with a variety of fun activities like an Olympics themed day, a Valentine’s Day party, a Mardi Gras party, fashion show and gymnastics day.

“I think of things to keep the children happy and not bored,” Levanga said. The neighbors worked together to remedy the placement of the students, but the building was a different Because of the water damage, the floor, carpeting, and drywall needed to be replaced, the cabinets needed to be removed, and the walls were then repainted.

All of the school supplies also needed to be removed for cleaning.

It was a duo from ServiceMaster, Joel Costenbader and Eric Freas, who came to the rescue.

“We made it a priority,” Costenbader said during the final hours of clean up.

Freas did the water mitigation, while Costenbader was in charge of repairs. The team made it safe for the children to come back into. With such a collaborative effort, it would be a shame not to say this tale had a true happy ending.

About the Author

Emily Thiel

Emily Thiel is the editor of The Southern Berks News and is the Community Engagement Editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers. Emily joined Berks-Mont in March 2013. She graduated from Kutztown University in 2011 with a degree in English with a concentration in Cultural and Media Studies. Emily is a native of Allentown, Pa. Reach the author at or follow Emily on Twitter: @sthrnberksnews.