NEWPORT NEWS - It's been more than two months since part of the Virginia Living Museum was damaged by what officials say was the worst flooding in its 45-year history.

On August 25, water from Deer Park Lake went over the floodgates that had been installed in 2004 and flooded the lower level.

Clean-up efforts began right away as crews ripped up carpeting and removed about two feet of drywall from the exhibit areas, classrooms, offices and hallways on the lower level.

The Little Blue Heron and the Black Crowned Night Heron, housed in the Coastal Plains Aviary, didn't survive.

Since then, the museum has built a new house for the raccoons on top of the hill so that they can be away from future flooding.

While the museum has insurance, they're raising money to cover the $50,000 deductible.

In an effort to minimize future risk, the museum has contacted the Newport News Stormwater Division and is talking with the College of William and Mary to conduct a hydrology study of Deer Park Lake to see if changes in the lake are contributing to the flooding.

A flood monitoring system is now in place on the lake to warn staff members by text message about the rate of rising water in the lake. Officials also say improved storm gates are being researched and will be installed for the three lower level entrances.

Unaffected areas of the museum remained open and officials reduced the entry fee to encourage visitors.

Officials hope to reopen exhibit there in mid-December.

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