Executive director Maria Perretta walks down a hall as restoration takes place at the Ridge Meadows Seniors Activity Centre. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Ridge Meadows Seniors Activity Centre closed since severe storm

Dealing with renovations due to flooding on Sept. 14.

The RMSS Maple Ridge Seniors Activity Centre has been closed down almost completely as a result of the flash flood on Sept. 14.

The centre has 1,500 members, who utilize 90 weekly programs there, most all of which have been relocated.

A letter went out to users of the centre on Sept. 18, informing them that a substantial area had been damaged,”with what is called Category 3 contaminated water.”

Executive director Maria Perretta said water rushed through the parking lot and came through every door at the centre, “like a river.

“All the front doors, the back door, all the doors in the dining room and the side loading bay door. It came so quickly you just couldn’t stop it,” Perretta said of the scene that met residents of the residential tower during their annual event in the main hall.

During the storm, Perretta estimates water to be about eight centimetres deep throughout the centre.

“[Tower residents] had to go back and forth from the elevator and so they had to physically roll up their pants,” she said.

The water pooled in areas and remained around five centimetres deep.

Most of the damage in the centre is to the flooring and walls.

New flooring had just been installed only two weeks before the storm and the centre had been repainted.

Now it all has to come out, including all of the hardwood in the main hall, the flooring in all of the hallways, the dining room, every office, the boardroom, the library and the washrooms. The walls in all those areas have to be replaced almost a metre from the ground.

They have been given a timeline of three months by the restoration company doing the work.

The only area of the centre not affected by the flood was the kitchen, where there is also a washroom.

The Meals On Wheels has remained uninterrupted.

In addition, a daily meal service is still being offered through the side door of the kitchen between 11:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. for anyone who would like a takeaway meal.

Every other program, though, has to be relocated, if possible.

The current focus of centre staff is on the fitness programs.

Activity coordinator Carmen Tischer says the Pitt Meadows Seniors Centre’s doors are open to the users of the Maple Ridge centre. However, they have no ability to shuttle patrons.

There have been lots of offers of space, which staff appreciate, but they have to consider accessibility at each location and determine out how practical it will be, especially for patrons with mobility issues.

“And trying to think, the weather’s good now, the weather necessarily won’t be very good in a few weeks. So taking that into consideration as well,” explained Tischer.

“We are trying to keep the programming the same. We are trying to keep it at the same time. We are trying to keep the consistency as much as possible,” she said, adding that all programs won’t be held at a single location.

A list is being finalized this week with information on what classes are being held, at what location and how to access the different buildings.

“One thing we want to try and keep going is the wellness clinic that happens on Tuesday mornings,” said Perretta.

In a sectioned off room right beside their make-shift office in the Ridge Meadows Seniors Activity Centre, a scale still stands. Perretta says this small room has been secured for the clinic.

Perretta just needs to confirm that this space is safe and that there will be washrooms available before they can start the clinic again.

Damage to the floors and walls is covered by the centre’s building insurance but what isn’t covered is damage to furniture or loss of business.

Any furniture that was in the water will at least need to be decontaminated.

Centre staff are also concerned about the loss of revenue. They are not able to offer their regular lunch from Monday to Friday and fees usually collected from programs will now go to the temporary venue.

Additionally, bookings for the hall and other rooms at the facility all had to be cancelled.

The voting station for the upcoming election has been relocated, as well as an all-mayoral candidates meeting, to be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 4 at St. George Church, 23500 Dewdney Trunk Rd. instead.

“And a few candidates wanted to do a meet and greet and had rented space for that and we had to cancel,” said Perretta.

The Variety Plus Christmas show has had to be cancelled, as well.

But, Perretta says, people are choosing to find ways to connect. Patrons are taking their own initiative and finding meeting spaces and sharing the information with the centre.

Perretta wants patrons to know that the office is still open and can be accessed from the fire door at the north-west corner of the building marked by a sign and gold and blue balloons.

“They can come in and still get resources and still make contact with some of us,” she advised.

And an area has been set up from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Wednesday to Friday at the Royal Canadian Legion along 224th Street, for patrons to grab a coffee, chat with others and talk to outreach coordinator Bev Schmahmann, if needed. Some people have even chosen to bring their knitting and cards.

The drivers’ services are also still running and volunteers are still answering the phone at the centre.

• Info.: 604-477-9985, maria@rmssseniors.org, or rmssseniors.org.

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(Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS) Executive director Maria Perretta helps a member of the restoration company pack costumes from a closet.

Carmen Tischer, activity coordinator, works out of the make-shift office at the north west corner of the Ridge Meadows Seniors Activity Centre.

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