Burst pipe damages computers donated to Calgary students


“It’s not the Sunday we were hoping for, especially as we are getting ready for the start of the school year tomorrow”

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A burst pipe in a community hall in southeast Calgary on Sunday morning caused water damage to nearly 100 computers that had been donated for use by schoolchildren.


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Community leader Gar Gar visited the Forest Lawn Community Association building shortly before noon Sunday after a burst pipe in the ceiling soaked around 80 to 95 computers. He said the damage represents a major setback for the community.

“It’s not Sunday that we were hoping for, especially as we prepare for the opening of the school tomorrow,” said Gar, executive director of Youth Empowerment and Skills (YES), the association at nonprofit that collected the computers. The group has foreseen the possibility of classes being moved online due to the Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, by collecting and preparing computers for use in children who do not have access to the technology.


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“We thought we would be ahead of this news and waited to see what happened next, taking proactive steps. . . But this event put us back 100 steps from what we had planned, ”he said.

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

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  2. Gar Gar of the Youth Empowerment and Skills Charity poses with computers donated to the Forest Lawn Community Center.  The charity is working to provide donated computers and devices to students who lack access to technology and e-learning capabilities at home during the pandemic.  Tuesday April 20, 2021.

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The damage to the community hall is “significant,” said Forest Lawn Community Association president Caitlin Flegel. She said the pipe burst on Sunday morning, but flooded for hours before crews were alerted, with water entering the parking lot. The main hall was not touched, but the offices were, with the pipe bursting above the space where meetings are held and files are kept.


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“It seems that all of the ceiling, all of the floors, all of our electronic equipment is not salvageable,” Flegel said, adding that the association was in contact with its insurer to assess the damage and restorations. .

“One of the renovations that we asked to complete this year is to extend our fire detection system in the office and the small hall, but unfortunately this work was not yet completed. does not trigger any alarm.

A spokesperson for the Calgary Fire Department said firefighters attended the scene at the request of the city’s water department, which was unable to access the building. Firefighters forced open the door and cut off the building’s utilities. The City of Calgary said the building had a service valve leak at 10:45 a.m., with repairs to be done by a contractor.


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

It is the latest in a series of water outages in Calgary during two spells of extreme cold that have hit the city for much of the past three weeks. As of 1 p.m. Sunday, 177 homes were without water as the city scrambled to fix broken water pipes in the communities of Pineridge, Radisson Heights and Whitehorn.

The flood represents a significant setback for the community association, which is already facing financial difficulties due to the inability to organize fundraising events or casinos during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as provincial budget cuts in community leagues.

“The amount we are able to spend on building maintenance has been drastically reduced,” Flegel said, noting that community associations are almost entirely run by volunteers.


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“A lot of community associations are on the verge of simply being financially destitute.”

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

The YES Center, meanwhile, made it easier to donate computers to families without access to technology in previous waves of the pandemic when schools were forced online, with volunteers refurbishing the machines. Gar said it was important that resources were made available so that children from disadvantaged backgrounds were not left behind if learning comes back online this semester.

The community advocate said the group will seek further donations to recover the damage, asking donors to contact them at [email protected].

“This was all donated by generous Calgarians, and when they hear something they always reach out, just like they did before,” Gar said, adding that access to technology is an issue that families face. face even outside the pandemic.

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonfherring



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