Anneliese's School wants $1M to fix flood damages

Anneliese's Schools wants to raise $1 million to repair severe flood damage that occurred at the Willowbrook Campus in Laguna Canyon during the recent storms.

This is the estimated cost to rebuild classrooms, the sports field, learning garden and property landscaping, Director of Operations Elise Higley said.

"Nine classrooms including the computer lab and newly installed educational kitchen have been decimated," Higley said. "The repairs consist of water remediation, electrical wiring, demolition, drywall, tiling, flooring, fencing and grading.

"Other rooms such as the office and Great Room also suffered moderate water damage, but we've got those back in full operation."

The five-acre property will need to be re-landscaped to replace trees, plants and flowers. It houses a pasture for goats, pigs and miniature horses and an aviary, which lost four exotic birds in the storm.

Classes have resumed at the Willowbrook Campus but much needs to be done to bring the facility back to its former state, Higley said.

"Some of the programs unique to our school such as the educational kitchen have been disrupted. This connects to the learning garden, which has also been completely destroyed," Higley said. "We are asking for donations to help re-build our teaching gardens and build an outdoor educational kitchen were the children can harvest seasonal produce and learn to cook an amazing meal."

The flood relief effort, which can be accessed through the school's website, is asking parents and the community to help bring the school back to an operating state.

"The community has been extraordinary so far," Higley said. "Parents and the Transition Laguna group helped with the demo work, mud clean-up, general clean-up, re-planting, as well as donating online.

"The fundraising committee, headed by Anneliese mom, Elizabeth Lynch, has raised $22,000 so far."

The committee will also update the site with "flood news," as the school is still developing a wish list as it continues to assess lost items and further damage.

"While this has been a devastating loss for the school, we have all pulled together and have found a sense of security in the way the community is coming together to help rebuild this learning sanctuary that has educated our local youth for the last four decades," Higley said. "We are using this devastation to educate our children about resiliency, gratitude, and learning from adverse situations.

"The children are processing this loss to their school in a healthy and wise way and are very eager to help re-build it. We will be seeing many bake sales in the future."

District schools undamaged

The Laguna Beach Unified School District was fortunate to not have suffered any significant damage from the storms, said Norma Shelton, Assistant Supt. of business services.

"Eric [Jetta, director of facilities] was well prepared in advance placing sump pumps strategically," Shelton said. "There was some water intrusion in the basement of the [Artists] theater but folks rallied and saved the costumes stored in boxes on the floor. There was also some water intrusion that entered under some doorways at each of the campuses but once again Eric was present and prepared and ensured everything was dry and clean in advance of the return of staff and students."

To donate to the Anneliese Flood Relief or receive updated news about the flood, visit or

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