By Steven Looney
Special to SMN
THAYER -- The Fun and Friends water disaster in downtown Thayer continues.
Large amounts of water flowed down Chestnut Street, and into the Warm Fork River March 18.
Initially, it was thought the water seeping through the back concrete wall of Fun and Friends was being generated by the huge amount of rapid rainfall. Run-off was gushing down the alleyway between the senior center, a vacant business and the back wall of the Bank of Thayer.
Rain water continued to enter the back of the center, although run-off in the surrounding area had subsided and the streets were dry.
A much more serious problem had erupted at the center. The general diagnosis and combined consensus is, what is better known in these parts as a "wet water spring," had emerged.
The center director, assistant director, kitchen staff and a core of volunteers spent hour after hour, cleaning, mopping, shop vac and towel ringing.
Water emerged from cracks under the walls and between foundations, covering the entire kitchen area. The food storage room, men's bathroom, out into the women's bathroom, pool table area and into the dinning area had water damage.
The carpet in the center is only a few months old and not paid for. The carpet in the dinning area was soaked.
A plumbing contractor was retained to correct the flow from underground drainage pipes. The work of busting out concrete, digging, pumping, and laying new pipe, happened rather quickly.
Unable to operate from the kitchen, staff had to make an early morning commute to the Alton Senior Citizen Center. Thayer Fun and Friends kitchen staff worked diligently to prepare the regular lunches, delivering back to Thayer and served at the Masonic Lodge Hall, plus all of the homebound meals.
The over 300 daily Meals on Wheels which is delivered directly by volunteers, had to be prepared for distribution before the Alton Senior Center kitchen staff could start their daily routine.
The water flow repair was thought to be in hand until April 10 when the entire area was hit with a flood that can only be described by those who saw it as, "bigger than the flood of 1982."
The initial water seepage repair had not been enough. Dirty, brown water again came through the walls, covered the floors and carpet, entering the kitchen, shop and bathrooms at the center.
After health department inspections, it looks like it will be a very long time before the center can return to operation at this location.
Walls, carpet and ceilings have to be removed and replaced. Although the army of volunteers (mostly senior citizens) have been doing a stellar job, the financial resources of the center have been completely drained.
The meager financial support from the state, has allowed the center to find a smaller alternative location. The renovation and revitalization of the secondary smaller location, (the old Dutch Oven) will keep the kitchen staff from having to commute to Alton and not interfere with the Alton center's operations.
The smaller facility will allow Fun and Friends to continue to provide lunches and Meals on Wheels but other services such as pool tables and quilting will have to be discontinued until repairs are completed.
The question is, where will the money come from to make the needed work happen?
An account has been set up at the Bank of Thayer to help raise funds for the center.