Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Siloam shelter in need of help

Sprinkler breaks, floods rooms

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WINNIPEG'S largest homeless shelter has lost up to $25,000 in food and medical supplies after a sprinkler head blew Thursday, flooding part of the building.

With Christmas less than two weeks away, Siloam Mission is scrambling to replenish its food stock while dealing with the water damage, which has temporarily closed its medical centre.

"When you're trying to work so hard to make sure everybody is cared for at Christmas time, it just kind of sets you back," executive director Floyd Perras said.

"I guess what I worry about is it will take away some of our energy to make sure Christmas is good here for the folks."

Fire crews were called to Siloam Mission at 300 Princess St. just after 9 a.m. to find a sprinkler head running in the medical supply room of the Saul Sair Health Centre on the first floor of the four-storey building, Perras said. A damper that allows cold air to flow in during the summer was not closed properly, which caused the pipes in the ceiling leading to the sprinkler to freeze, Perras said. The water backup put pressure on the seal of the sprinkler head and it broke.

Crews were able to stop the running sprinkler head, but not before it doused about 4,000 square feet of the medical centre and clothing room with five centimetres of water, which Perras said trickled down the insides of the walls and through the floor into the basement where the food is stored.

"It's unbelievable the amount of water that came out of that," he said.

Perras said two to three pallets of food, valued at between $5,000 and $10,000, will likely have to be thrown away. Volunteers spent the afternoon sifting through crates, ripping the soggy labels off canned goods and tossing items packaged in cardboard boxes.

He estimates between $10,000 and $15,000 in medical supplies were lost.

None of the clothing room was damaged because it was stored high enough off the floor to avoid the water, Perras said. He expects the clothing room will reopen today.

More than 200 shelter users and 200 volunteers and staff members evacuated the building for about an hour and moved into one behind it at 303 Stanley St., which is used as a dining room in the summer.

About two dozen volunteers and half a dozen shelter users helped to vacuum and mop up the water once fire crews said the building was safe to re-enter around 10 a.m., Perras said.

Garnett Deer was at Siloam Mission for breakfast when the flooding happened. After the evacuation, he helped mop up the water.

He said he's concerned about the effect the closure of the health centre will have on people who have serious health issues.

"It's one of the biggest needs here," said Deer, who is no longer homeless but still drops by the shelter.

"There will be guys stuck halfway in their programs now," he said.

The health centre helps 60 people each week.

Rainbow International disaster restoration services brought in fans to help dry out the damp health centre.

Perras said the insurance company had not yet provided an estimate for damage to the building, but he expects repairs will be covered.

The kitchen, dining room and sleeping space were not affected by the flood and remained operational.

"I do know that people take care of us when things like this happen. That's who Manitoba is," Perras said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 13, 2013 0


Updated on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 7:18 AM CST: Replaces photo, adds video

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