Pipe burst damages donated computers for Calgary students

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“It’s not the Sunday we were hoping for, especially as we are preparing for tomorrow’s school opening”

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Jason Herring Gar Gar, a community member and volunteer, is investigating flood damage at the Forest Lawn Community Association in southeast Calgary on Sunday, January 9, 2022. Gar Gar, a community member and volunteer, is investigating flood damage at the Forest Lawn Community Association in southeast Calgary on Sunday, January 9, 2022. Photo by Jim Wells / Postmedia

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A burst pipe in a meetinghouse in southeast Calgary on Sunday morning caused water damage to nearly 100 computers that had been donated to school children.

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Community leader Gar Gar visited the Forest Lawn Community Association building shortly before noon on Sunday after a burst pipe in the ceiling soaked an estimated 80 to 95 computers. He said the damage was a major blow to the community.

“It’s not the Sunday we were hoping for, especially as we prepare for the school opening tomorrow,” said Gar, director of the Youth Empowerment and Skills (YES) Center, the nonprofit that picked up the computers. The group has planned for the possibility that due to the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, classes will be relocated online by collecting computers and preparing them for use by children who do not have access to the technology.

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“We thought we were ahead of this news and we waited to see what happened next and took proactive steps. . . But this event took us 100 paces from what we expected, ”he said.

  1. Mom Zelna Robles with her daughter Julianne, 12, a 7th grade student who received a new Chromebook this week thanks to the Calgary YES Center on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.

    Families are grateful for technology donations to support K-12 learning at home

  2. Gar Gar from the Youth Empowerment and Skills Charity poses with donated computers in the Forest Lawn Community Center.  The charity is working to provide donated computers and devices for students who do not have access to technology and online learning at home during the pandemic.  Tuesday, April 20th, 2021.

    A local charity provides home learning equipment to fill in equal opportunity gaps that school authorities cannot

The damage to the community hall was “significant,” said Caitlin Flegel, president of the Forest Lawn Community Association. She said the pipe burst sometime Sunday morning but flooded for hours before alerting crews and causing water to spill on the parking lot. The main hall was not affected, but the offices were, with the pipes bursting over the room where meetings are held and files are kept.

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“It looks like the entire ceiling, all floors and all of our electronic devices are beyond salvage,” said Flegel, adding that the association is in contact with its insurer to assess damage and restoration work, the workers were on site to start the clean-up work.

“One of the renovation work that we have pushed ahead this year is the expansion of our fire alarm system into the office and the small hall, but unfortunately this work was not yet completed, so that if a pipe breaks, no alarms are triggered.”

A Calgary Fire Department spokesman said firefighters were on site at the request of the city’s water services department, which had not been given access to the building. Firefighters forcibly opened the door and cut off the building’s utility lines. The City of Calgary listed the building as having a leak on the service valve as of 10:45 am, with the repairs to be done by a contractor.

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Gar Gar, a community member and volunteer, is investigating flood damage at the Forest Lawn Community Association in southeast Calgary on Sunday, January 9, 2022. Gar Gar, a community member and volunteer, is investigating flood damage at the Forest Lawn Community Association in southeast Calgary on Sunday, January 9, 2022. Photo by Jim Wells / Postmedia

It is the latest in a string of water outages in Calgary in the wake of two extreme cold spells that struck the city for much of the past three weeks. At 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, 177 homes went out of water as the city repaired broken water pipes in the Pineridge, Radisson Heights, and Whitehorn communities.

The flood represents a significant setback for the community association, which is already suffering from financial burdens due to the inability to hold events or raise funds during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as budget cuts by community leagues by the provinces.

“The amount that we can invest in the maintenance of the building has been significantly reduced,” says Flegel. Community associations are almost exclusively run by volunteers.

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“Many community associations are on the verge of financial poverty.”

Flood damage at the Forest Lawn Community Association will be on display in Calgary on Sunday, January 9, 2022. Flood damage at the Forest Lawn Community Association will be on display in Calgary on Sunday, January 9, 2022. Photo by Jim Wells / Postmedia

The YES Center has facilitated computer donations for families with no access to technology in previous waves of the pandemic when schools were forced online with volunteers overhauling the machines. Gar said it is important that the resources are available so that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are not left behind when learning goes back online this semester.

The community representative said the group will be looking for more donations to make up for the damage and has asked donors to contact them at [email protected]

“All of this has been donated by generous Calgarians, and when they hear something they always access it as before,” Gar said. Access to technology is an issue that families face outside of the pandemic.

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonferring

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