The Flood

By Noel Kane, Property Manager

Posted on February 18, 2015

Sunday, February 15 was billed by weather experts to be the “coldest day” of the year and it did not disappoint. At 7:31 p.m. I received a phone call from our security company telling me one of the “fire zone” alarms at St. Paul’s Bloor Street had been activated. The fire department had been notified and was enroute to the church and they asked if I would meet them there. I was enjoying a romantic Family Day in Niagara Falls with my wife… and three children – so I contacted Joyce Badley, our Executive Pastor, and asked if she could go to St. Paul’s.

Joyce arrived at the church at approximately 7:55 p.m. While seeking the fire panel on the lower level, Joyce and the Fire Department happened upon a large puddle of water. So began their hunt for the source of the water! They saw the alarm had been activated on the second floor above Cody Hall. They made their way to the second floor and saw water pouring down from the ceiling. A fire sprinkler valve had frozen and cracked – water was gushing from the pipe like Niagara Falls. Joyce called me and I told the fire department where to locate the shutoff valve for the fire sprinkler. Because the sprinkler system is pressurized, they were only able to slow the water flow down to a trickle.

As soon as I was told the church was flooding, I hopped into my trusty Toyota Sienna and raced to St. Paul’s (raced is only a descriptive word, I followed the posted speed limit of 100 km per hour), and made the trek from Niagara Falls to St. Paul’s in an hour and 15 minutes. Joyce contacted Frank Varela, Assistant Facility Manager, who was sitting down to dinner with his family and was just about to take his first bite into a delicious roast beef meal, and asked him to come in and help stem the tide and clean up the water. Without hesitation, Frank was out the door and on his way to St. Paul’s.

When I arrived I saw that water was trickling down from the back hall ceiling of the upper level, into the elevator shaft, down into Cody Hall, onto the lower level, all the way down to the gym. Frank had already begun to clean up the flooded floors. After a couple hours mopping and using the suction power of the floor scrubber, we had the majority of the flood waters cleaned up.

Miraculously there was no serious damage to the property.

I contacted our fire system service company to repair the damaged pipe and continued to clean up while I waited for them to arrive. The area where the pipe cracked had been sufficiently warm for the five plus years that I’ve been at St. Paul’s – but it was no match for the intense cold of February 15. The technician who came to repair the fire sprinkler told me his company had received over 70 calls that day to repair frozen fire sprinklers that had burst.

This incident proved once again that the staff at St. Paul’s are everyday heroes who are willing to sacrifice their time, even on a Sunday night of a Family Day weekend to help out when needed. Special thanks also to Robert Badley and Barry Parker for their support during the emergency.