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Flood evacuates Salvation Army building

Flood evacuates
Flood evacuates Salvation Army building Feb. 7 2021.

A flood caused "extensive" damage at the Salvation Army building downtown Sunday.

The facility was evacuated.

“We had a leak on our fourth floor and it has flooded significant portions of the building,” said Salvation Army executive director Jason Brinson.

“There were massive volumes of water and it leaked through all of the floors. The church area wasn't affected. It seems one side of the building was affected.”

Brinson said it's possible a frozen pipe burst.

The building is empty except for some staff members.

Provisions have been made for people who use the emergency shelter and who live in the building.

Brinson said a little over a dozen people were in the building when it flooded and have been accommodated.

“We don't anticipate anyone will be displaced into a homelessness situation,” Brinson said. “Alternative arrangements will be made for people who live in the building. We're looking at other places for the folks to stay.

"We might be able to absorb some people ourselves. For others, we're partnering with the City of Yellowknife and the GNWT to see that our needs are covered.”

The shelter in the building has been accommodating up to 40 people most nights, though the number varies, Brinson said. 

City of Yellowknife assistance

Some people who used the services of the Salvation Army have been relocated to the temporary day shelter, said members of the Yellowknife City Council on Monday.

During a discussion of the City of Yellowknife's governance and priorities committee meeting, where council talked about federal Reaching Home homelessness funding, Coun. Niels Konge asked if some leftover funds can be used to assist some of the people who were forced out of the Salvation Army on Sunday.

Senior Administrative Officer Sheila Bassi-Kellet said the city had been in contact with the Salvation Army since the incident to see what assistance could be provided and is working to see if some of the funding can be used to help with the situation.

“We provided some support for a very immediate response (Sunday) where some clientele have been relocated to the temporary day shelter,” she said. “We want to have discussions to see if there are ongoing issues and we will verify to see if there is any way where the needs that are being experienced can be covered by Reaching Home.”

The City also provided an unspecified number of cots for the Salvation Army following a request from that organization, said City of Yellowknife media spokesperson Alison Harrower.

"The City...continues to monitor the situation as the Salvation Army NWT evaluate their ongoing needs," Harrower said.

The leak on Sunday came as Yellowknife experienced its second day in a row of sub 40 C temperatures. Many parts of the NWT remain under an extreme cold warning from Environment Canada.

“An external contractor is investigating it," Brinson said. "They're piecing together whether it was in the fire suppression system or whether a pipe froze or burst.

"Right now we're just concerned about cleaning it up and restoring operations. We might have to cut away walls to see where the water leak started.”

Brinson hopes the praying community prays for the Salvation Army in the days and weeks ahead as it works to move back to its operations.

“We're thankful for our territorial government and City partners as we navigate through our time of need.”