Set to reopen, Poverello suffers second devastating flood; seeks additional funding

The Poverello Center won’t reopen its dorm as planned this month after a second flood damaged the building, its director said Friday in a letter to supporters.

The latest disaster undid most of the repairs made after a May 8 plumbing failure inundated the West Broadway facility.

“I cannot overstate how devastated we are about this,” said Amy Allison Thompson. “We appreciate the support we have gotten and we will be needing to go back to our supporters to help us recover from this second disaster.”

The shelter was forced to close portions of the facility in May after a plumbing failure flooded the building with sewage. That closed the entire basement and its 96 sleeping spaces, 56 of which are located in the men’s dorm.

Thompson placed the cost of that first flood at $150,000 and has spent the time since raising funding for repairs. That included $8,000 from Missoula County’s contingency fund – all that was left in the county’s account.

Insurance covered just $30,000 of the first flood, Thompson said.

This week’s latest flood occurred in the same area of the building.

“Because of the quick actions of staff and procedures put in place after the last flood, the kitchen was not as heavily impacted as the last flood,” she said. “Unfortunately, sewage did flow down into the men’s dorm again and destroyed all the work that had been completed there.

Thompson told Missoula County commissioners earlier this month that expert plumbers were investigating the cause of the first flood. She said the shelter was taking steps to ensure it didn’t happen again.

“It is clear that our initial investigation did not identify all the issues our plumbing system is facing,” she said. “We are again working with experts in the field to continue to find out what has happened and to have a more comprehensive plan for fixing this problem.”

The building is just six years old.

In her letter Friday, Thompson described the events as stressful, saying the shelter’s homeless residents are “in a state of crisis.” She said the facility would know more about damage to the kitchen by Monday.

An estimated cost of the latest flood hasn’t been offered.

“The Missoula Food Bank has given us enough ‘ready to eat’ meals to continue to feed our clients over the weekend,” Thompson said. “At this time, we don’t know when the men’s dorm will be repaired.”

Since the latest event was more contained, she said, the shelter will continue sleeping clients over the weekend.