VERNON - Major flooding has forced the Upper Room Mission to close until further notice, and that’s creating a lot of uncertainty for hundreds of people who visit the soup kitchen daily.
A pipe burst on the top floor of the 27 Avenue soup kitchen Monday around 10 p.m. and set off the facility’s sprinkler system. Fundraising director Lisa Anderson says there’s a significant amount of water damage throughout the building.
“Our kitchen was flooded, our furnace damaged. We have no heat,” Anderson says, adding there was six inches of water in the basement.
The kitchen was badly flooded, and a large amount of food had to be tossed due to contamination. Fortunately, a recent appeal for donations was largely answered in cash donations, not food.
There’s no figure on the damages yet, but the Mission is covered by insurance. Fans are being used to dry out the building, and floors are being ripped up by restoration crews, but at this point, Anderson says there’s no estimate on when they can reopen.
“The impact is enormous. We feed seniors, the disabled, the working poor and the homeless. Right now it’s not just about food, it’s a place to come to stay out of the cold,” Anderson says.
In addition to serving three meals a day, the soup kitchen is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and people are welcome to keep warm in the building as long as they like.
“For us to be shut down and not have anywhere to send them, I don’t know what they’re going to do,” she says.
Some of the Mission’s regulars showed up this morning for breakfast, and were eager to lend a hand when they learned of the situation.
“They were offering to help. Some of them were mopping up floors,” Anderson says.
Staff have been overwhelmed by the overall response from the public.
“The community is so amazing. My phone has not stopped ringing. I’ve been getting email after email asking what can we do how can we help?” Anderson says.
Local businesses, including Save On Foods, Rellish Transport Services, the Cattleman’s Club and A&W have offered to sponsor meals on Monday and Tuesday. A tent has been set up in the Mission parking lot, and food is being served there.
The Mission is looking for an indoor location to serve food, and anyone willing to offer space can contact Anderson at email@example.com or 250-549-1231, however phone service is intermittent. Businesses interested in sponsoring a meal can also contact Anderson directly.
Monetary donations can be dropped off at the Upper Room Mission thrift store boutique on 27 Avenue, but at this time, food is not being accepted. Monetary donations can also be made online.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
—This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 2 to include more information from the Upper Room Mission, and to change the photo.