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Community helps Langley seniors centre recover from flood

Staff, board worked hard to get programs up and running again
Langley Senior Resources Society board chair Loretta Solomon (left) and executive director Kate Ludlam near one of the damaged areas tarped off at the centre. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

When a pipe burst in the Langley Senior Resources Centre mid-afternoon during the recent cold snap, it flooded a sizable area of the building.

“Water was literally pouring out,” executive director Kate Ludlam said, indicating the area in the snooker room where the broken pipe split on Monday, Jan. 15.

But within days of the flood, the centre was open again, and all major programs were operating, even as tarps closed off damaged areas and restoration crews worked to tear out soaked insulation and drywall.

“We have not had to cancel one program or activity,” she said.

Loretta Solomon, president of the society’s board, said staff were on the move immediately, grabbing blankets from the Tuck Shop and using them to block the path of water into vital areas like the kitchen.

“Kate and the team, honestly, they functioned at Mach 2,” Solomon said.

Langley City firefighters helped with immediate cleanup, and members of numerous other agencies and non-profits immediately reached out – part of the dense network of connected groups that aid one another in Langley.

“We were inundated with phone calls of support,” Solomon said.

Langley Meals on Wheels and Langley Lodge helped with the seniors meals programs, and St. Andrew’s Church on Old Yale Road offered up space for some programs.

Some staff managed outreach work that would normally have been done in the centre by making house calls on their senior clients around town.

Solomon herself put in a long night. Because the fire sprinkler system was where the burst pipe had happened, the building didn’t have fire suppression until the leak was fixed.

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That meant the fire department put the building on fire watch. Someone had to be on site 24-hours a day and patrol once an hour, or the society would have lost its insurance. So Solomon stayed up and did it herself.

Things are settling down to normal now, but it will still be some time before everything is repaired – and the society is also facing at least a $50,000 insurance deductible to pay for the damage.

The flood comes as the society has been slowly recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Not only did the pandemic disproportionately affect seniors, but it took a huge chunk out of their volunteer base, Ludlam noted. Those volunteer numbers had been going up again over the last year.

Then there was inflation, which has hit all non-profits. The cost of food, utilities, and even paper have gone up significantly.

But faced with a big bill and a bigger cleanup, the society is already getting financial help.

Cascades Casino has donated $10,000 to the recovery efforts, Ludlam said.

An upcoming Valentine’s Day event on Wednesday, Feb. 14, dubbed LOVE LSRS, has pivoted to being a fundraiser for the rebuilding, with performers taking pay cuts or working for free to help out. Tickets are available by calling 604-530-3020, for $45 for members and $50 for non-members. The event will feature Steve “Elvis Elite” Elliot and Alyssa Nielsen performing, along with dinner, from 4 to 8 p.m.

A drive-through donation day is being organized for Friday, Feb. 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the centre’s at 20605 51B Avenue in Langley City.

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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