Around 1:30 p.m. Monday, flood waters continued to rise in the Davidson County Juvenile Justice Center as crews pumping water out of the building’s bottom level tried to keep up.
Only a small number of essential employees, about 15 to 20, were on hand at the center at 100 Woodland St. just north of LP Field. Bill Kostrub, the JJC director of security, said about 18 to 24 inches of water filled the three-story building’s bottom level and water continued to rise along with the Cumberland River.
“It’s rising slowly, but it’s still rising,” Kostrub said.
“Everything else — as far as where our kids are back in detention — is business as usual. We haven’t moved them, there’s no need to, everything is fine.”
Court Administrator for Juvenile Court Tim Adgent told The City Paper all of the juveniles being detained are out of harm’s way, and an evacuation plan is in place and ready to be enacted if it becomes necessary.
“The kids are safe — there’s no quality of life issue. The main thing is maintaining power into the building here,” Adgent said.
Adgent said federal law requires hearings within 72 hours on cases involving children removed for emergency dependency neglect matters and adolescents arrested and detained. Those hearings must move forward and the staff is working to file those without the use of computers or telephones. All other dockets have been suspended.
“We spent a majority of the morning with some of our staff doing manual entries the old-fashioned way of handwriting legal documents for the magistrate to hear,” Adgent said.
“We’re open but as far as court is concerned, we’re running on a wing and prayer right now.”
He emphasized that juvenile detainees were OK and would be transported, if needed, to a vacant wing in one of the county’s adult facilities, Adgent said, but didn’t name which one citing security reasons.
Sheriff Daron Hall and Mayor Karl Dean both visited the center Monday morning to check on the center’s needs and coordinate potential evacuation plans.
Flooding at the center originated from a storm drain situated between the facility and LP Field. Water then poured into the bottom level, short-circuiting electronic equipment in the control room affecting the electronic doors, cameras and elevators, according to Ron Luck the building’s maintenance supervisor for the detention side.
“I think it’s rising faster than they can pump it out,” Luck said.
“We’re just kind of holding on right now, watching the water, keeping an eye on it and seeing what’s going on,” Kostrub said.
“We’re waiting like everyone else trying to see what’s going to happen with the river.”
According to Kostrub, Metro General Services has contracted out the job to pump the water from the JJC.