It began with a "big boom."
That’s what Madeline McClein first heard right before water began gushing from the street in front of her daycare, Nana’s Day Care, on Monday morning. Charged with caring for dozens of babies and pre-school children and with the water rising quickly, she knew an evacuation was needed right away.
"The most important thing was to get the kids out and the staff out safely,” the daycare supervisor told NBC10.
"In 10 minutes, [the water] was about 3 feet deep."
A scary reality since the average height of a 3-year-old child is around 3 feet tall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
"First, we took the babies out safely," she said. "Then we moved the older children to the back of the building before we evacuated them."
Under the plan, which McClein says was developed by the daycare staff, the 41 children were walked to a nearby Catholic school which temporarily housed them during the ordeal. McClein says the school is one of two places the children can be taken. A CVS Pharmacy on the north side of Frankford Avenue, which was under siege by the fast-moving water, is another spot. The Philadelphia Fire Department eventually moved the children to the daycare’s other facility along nearby H Street.
McClein says the daycare practices an emergency evacuation three times a year and that evacuation manuals containing the contact information for the parents of each child is stored in each of the facility’s four classrooms.
While the waters were rising, McClein says there was “no chaos” among her staff. She praised their response.
“I think they did excellent and I’m so proud of them,” she said.
So are city officials.
"The teachers did an excellent job of exercising their evacuation plan," Deputy Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said. "Because they followed their procedures, we didn't have to make any dramatic rescues."
Officials say the water eventually rose to at least 5 feet around the daycare. McClein says they have yet to hear about how much damage was done to the building.
"We have to wait and see," she said.