Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Burst pipes flood Ruth’s, damaging stuff

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (Feb 2, 2005): A non-profit school supply group in Scarborough, Ruth's Reusable Resources, is looking for donations and volunteers after pipes burst flooding the Bessey School, the group's home.

Two pipes burst in the building in the frigid weather over the weekend. The water was not discovered until Tuesday morning. Ruth Libby, the head of the organization, is looking for volunteers to help sort through the debris and donations of money and space to move supplies to.

"It's still pretty wet," Ruth Libby said Tuesday afternoon, as the recovery effort began. Some volunteers have told Libby they will come by after school in the coming days.

Several rooms throughout the old school building are stacked high with paper, books, arts and crafts materials and other school supplies donated by local companies and available for schoolteachers to collect at no charge.

School districts pay $1.50 per student per year for membership in Ruth's. A single teacher can take as much as $300 worth of items in one visit.

"There's enough stuff thrown away daily in this whole state to take care of pretty much every school district," she said. She also has nine 18-wheel trailers filled with items, some filled as many as eight years ago.

The damage is "depressing," Libby said. The building is old and hasn't received much maintenance in recent years. "We're past the spot where this building is feasible."

She has begun a fund-raising effort and is seeking donors of money and space for the items to move. Donations are coming in, though slowly, and warehouse space is hard to find. Those wishing to donate should call 883-8407.

For the moment, she will stay in the Bessey School, where several storage rooms were flooded, some with several inches of water. "It just looked like a waterfall," Libby said workers who found the damage told her.

"A lot of the good computers that we had in there are wet" as are mounds of paper and other supplies that would have been available at no charge to employees of school districts that are members of the Ruth's group.

"Now we have to throw it away," she said, though she is trying to find a way to salvage as much as possible.

There are huge rolls of felt sitting on the floor of what used to be the school gym. Only the bottom couple of inches are wet. "I will figure out a way to cut it, if I have to unroll the whole roll to do it," she said Wednesday.

Some areas of the floor were still wet Wednesday, and Libby was waiting for a Dumpster to be delivered so she could begin clearing things out.

Many of the supplies are stacked in piles, meaning most of the supplies are still dry. But those have to be moved before the wet things on the bottom of the piles can be thrown away.

Several large rooms have water damage, and some rugs may have to be removed, Libby said. That would require moving everything out of the rooms.

She is asking for volunteers to help moving and sorting items. By press time Wednesday, she was not sure when would be the best time for volunteers to come, and suggested people call the office (883-8407) to offer to help.

The flood is the second in Ruth's history. The first, about seven years ago, was the result of roof repairs that let in a deluge from a rainstorm.

That time, she had to throw out more stuff, because most of it was stored directly on the floor. After that flood, she stored many items on wooden pallets or shelves, lifting them at least a couple inches off the ground.