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Ottawa women's shelter forced to close for weeks after being flooded by burst pipe

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The St. Joe's Women's Centre is closed temporarily after a pipe burst, flooding its facilities.

It is now going to cost thousands of dollars in structural repairs and it could be weeks before it is ready to fully reopen.

Since Saturday, the centre’s director Jennifer Clark says they’ve been forced to turn people away as they deal with the aftermath.

“There was five inches of water on the floor,” said Clark. “The pipe that burst was a main pipe and it burst upward, instead of downward, shooting water into the second level of the building, as well as into different walls of the women's center itself.”

About eight rooms and a few hallways were damaged over the weekend. The source of the flood was in the back room where they store and prepare food. All of it had to be thrown away.

“Women that come here access a variety of different services. They may come here to access a meal, groceries, school snacks for their children, showers, laundry or just a safe place to be during the day,” said Clark. “When I realized that nothing was salvageable, I had to take a moment.”

“At this point, it would be hard to say the actual cost,” said John Cook, an expert in water damage restoration with ServiceMaster of Ottawa. He says the initial estimate is somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000, but it could have been much worse.

“I think that they caught this rupture relatively quickly,” he said. “You can keep in mind that that one inch pipe could push anywhere from 20 to 40 gallons of water a minute, depending on the pressure and the size of the opening.”

Fans have been dispersed throughout the building to deal with the moisture in the walls and in the baseboards. Clark hopes to reopen at least partially on July 8, but even that is an ambitious timeline.

“Closing our doors for two weeks is very detrimental to the population we serve and it's heartbreaking. We're doing our best and we'll continue to do our best,” she said.

The centre says monetary donations are helpful. They have posted an Amazon wishlist on their website and Facebook page with specific items like coffee, tea and toiletries to help with their partial reopening. 

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