Flood destroys supplies for homeless at Light of Life


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A flood believed to have been caused by a burst pipe in the fire-sprinkler system destroyed hundreds of bags and boxes of clothes, blankets, toys and other donations for the homeless at Light of Life’s storage building on Ridge Avenue over the weekend.

The flood happened Friday or Saturday but was not discovered until Sunday because the building, a former city school, is only used for storage and special events, according to the nonprofit, which provides meals and housing programs for the homeless.

Water was gushing out of the pipe for nearly six hours after the flooding was discovered Sunday. Light of Life staff say warm weather after last week’s record-breaking frigid temperatures caused the pipe to break and that city workers were unable to assist in shutting it off for hours because of similar problems throughout the city.

“We couldn’t get it off,” said Denny Smith, Light of Life’s director of men’s programs. “If we were using this building, it would have been a disaster.”

About 20 volunteers helped sort the 500 sodden bags and boxes into usable and ruined piles, said Kate Wadsworth, a spokeswoman for the group. Nearly 75 percent of the donations were destroyed, she said.

The nonprofit, which serves about 100,000 meals a year and runs a 22-bed emergency shelter, a 38-bed men’s long-term recovery program and a 30-bed program for women and their children, is seeking donations to replace what was lost as well as volunteers to help clean up.

Go to www.lightoflife.org or call 412-258-6100 for information.


Robert Zullo: rzullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3909.

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