Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A place to shower, fill 'er up

City sets up sites where residents can get water

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Marcelino Robles collects water for his family at the Cindy Klassen Rec Centre Sunday. His home’s pipes have been frozen for a week.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Marcelino Robles collects water for his family at the Cindy Klassen Rec Centre Sunday. His home’s pipes have been frozen for a week. Photo Store

Marcelino Robles has a new appreciation for water and won't be taking it for granted when it starts to flow into his house again. Whenever that is.

The West End resident, whose pipes have been frozen for a week, filled up a number of large water jugs at the Cindy Klassen Recreation Centre Sunday afternoon to take home so his family of five can cook, clean and flush the toilet.

"It's hard. I have to make three trips a day to get water. Sometimes I go to the fire halls, too," he said.

"You have a shower or flush the toilet and you take water for granted. You don't appreciate how important it is until you don't have it."

The City of Winnipeg opened the first frozen water pipe resource centre on Saturday at the 999 Sargent Ave. facility.

Two more centres will open soon in southwest and east Winnipeg. Two employees were on hand all weekend to fill water jugs and take them to people's vehicles.

More than 1,900 homes have had their pipes freeze in the last week or so and more than one-third of them have since been thawed.

Another 409 homes have been running a hose from a neighbour's home and nearly 800 homeowners had asked the city for water jugs to be delivered to their doors.

Earlier in the day, Robles took his children to play and have a swim at the rec centre while he had a shower.

He said he and his wife have been making regular visits to a neighbourhood laundromat to keep their kids in clean clothes.

Every water-related activity takes longer when the pipes don't work, he said.

"We boil the water before we do the dishes," he said.

Robles said a representative from the city was at his house Saturday to look at his frozen pipes, and told him his problem should be rectified within the next five days.

For the first little while after his pipes froze last Monday, Robles had been filling up his water jugs at his mother's house. She lives next door.

"I stopped doing that because I don't want her water bill to get too high," he said.

John Shrimpton, another area resident, went to the centre for the first time on Sunday. He said having frozen pipes since Friday and little prospect of having them thawed for a couple of weeks is "a pretty big inconvenience."

Even though he had every right to be frustrated or angry at his family's situation, Shrimpton shrugged it off.

"I'm just filling up the pails, and you do what you've got to do," he said.

Members of the Red Cross and Salvation Army did their part to make things \easier for inconvenienced homeowners by providing free coffee, pop, granola bars and personal-hygiene kits, as well as books and crafts at Cindy Klassen.

"Some families are coming by with the kids so the parents can have a cup of coffee while the kids read or colour," said Debbie Clarke, Salvation Army's director of emergency disaster services.

She said the traffic taking advantage of the services offered at Cindy Klassen was "slow" since it started Saturday.

"There are not a lot of people coming through. I think people are resilient. The community is working together (thanks to) friends and family. That's what Winnipeg is all about," she said.

The Salvation Army hasn't been asked to help out at any other site but Clarke said its people will "definitely" go wherever they are needed.

 

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 17, 2014 0

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