CRANFORD, NJ (CBSNewYork) – Six months after Irene hit the Tri-State area, things are finally getting back to normal in one New Jersey town.

There were first day butterflies at Brookside Place elementary school in Cranford on Monday, two-thirds of the way through the school year.

First and second graders were welcome back to the classroom months after their school was devastated by Irene’s flooding.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story

“They’re excited. I know my first grader is excited. She’s excited to get back,” said parent Paul Prodder.

Students were spread out across other nearby schools while catastrophe response teams worked to clean up after Irene.

Prodder says it’s been a bit of a schlep for the past six months.

“We had to go to different schools. All the kids in these schools were all in different areas of the town,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams. “The first and second grade were in a completely different town, the town next over from us, Garwood.”

Kindergarten, third, fourth, and fifth graders will return to school next week.

In a letter sent home to parents last week, the school’s principal says, “It has been a long six months, but together we have accomplished much and have grown stronger together as a community. Spring celebrations are scheduled to showcase the re-opened, beautiful Brookside Place School to the community so we may gather together in good times after the storm.”

School officials say they basically had to start from scratch. Most of the waterlogged furniture had to be thrown out. Floors, walls and ceilings have been replaced; the electrical system has been given a complete overhaul.

The few supplies that were able to be salvaged have been scrubbed down.

Now, the school sits freshly painted and nearly new again.

The only question now for government officials is what’s going to be done to prevent future flooding.

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