THAYER -- Things have changed at the Fun and Friends Senior Citizen Center in Thayer. This is due to heavy rain that fell in Oregon County and surrounding areas March 18 and 19.
The center was advised by Oregon County Health Department Inspector Julie Crowell to close the center due to excessive water standing in the kitchen. "Actually, there was water over the whole facility. It was not a safe working environment for the workers or the volunteers. The restrooms at the center were even flooded," Crowell said.
Center Director Sheila Smith said water leaked through the back wall of the building March 18 and 19 after severe flooding hit portions of the county. Local plumber Calvin Bowers said the water leaking into the building is run-off from the extreme rain.
Until the leak can be fixed the center has relocated to the Masonic Lodge on Third Street.
To say the senior center has been inconvenienced would be a mild statement. The volunteers and employees of the center have had to completely change their routine due to the move.
"We are having to cook our meals at the Alton Senior Center and bring them back to Thayer," Smith said.
Head cook LaDonna Waller said early in the morning, two of the cooks Sunny Jacubowski, first assistant cook, and Faith Ann Brown, load their supplies from the center on Chestnut Street and head to Alton to prepare the meals.
"The Alton cooks are also in their kitchen preparing their noon meal. It is very crowded, very close working conditions," Waller said.
The water has been coming in the center at a pretty steady flow since March 18.
"At one point last week we thought the water had subsided and In Tech, a company from Mountain View, came and tried to dry up the water," Smith said.
She said In Tech removed almost 500 gallons of water from the building but Smith said it was useless. The water still flowed into the building.
Since their move to the Masonic Lodge late last week, the center has resumed serving meals at the lodge. Smith said they usually serve 45 meals a day at Fun and Friends, last Thursday they served 25 meals.
Smith said the home-bound meal and frozen food routes continue at the center but they are in desperate need of volunteers to help deliver the meals.
She said FEMA is expected back in Thayer sometime this week to deal with their type of flood situation and is hoping they will help the center with the expense of fixing the leak.
Smith also said the center recently had new carpet installed. The carpet has not even been paid for yet and it is ruined, according to Smith.
The center has been a long-time gathering place not only for the noon meal, but for seniors in the area to visit, make quilts, play pool, put together puzzles and other activities.
"This is a great program. I would like to see the center back open at its own location," Crowell said.