April 28, 2014 7:39 pm

Winnipeg restaurant reopens after weeks without water

Amy Lo is finally back at work at Foon Hai restaurant in Winnipeg, which was closed for 53 days because of a frozen water pipe.

Tamara Forlanski / Global News

WINNIPEG – After 53 days without water, the smell of food is back at Foon Hai.

“It’s good to be alive again,” said Stanley Dare, who has owned the William Avenue restaurant for 30 years.

Foon Hai’s water pipe froze March 3, and the business’s doors had been closed until Monday. Dare estimates he lost up to $70,000 income in that time.

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“I also put $15,000 on my credit card,” Dare said, explaining he had to keep paying his hydro bill and other expenses. That doesn’t include all the food he had to throw out.

City crews tried to thaw the pipe using hot water twice, Dare said. When that didn’t work, they dug a hole in front of the restaurant to try the electrical method, but the water line was six feet off and another hole had to be dug.

Since the restaurant couldn’t open without water, the half-dozen employees were out of work for two months.

“It was hard with no money,” said Amy Lo, who has been a cook with Foon Hai for around 15 years.

Lo went on unemployment assistance until the phone call came that water was restored to the restaurant.

Dare knows it will be a while before his restaurant fully recovers from having a frozen water line, but he hopes Winnipeggers will support his business even after it was closed for so long.

At last count, there were 1,119 Winnipeg properties still waiting to have frozen water lines thawed. Many of those have access to water through hoses connected to neighbouring properties, but as of Friday, 312 properties were without any running water.

“It will be a race with Mother Nature,” said Randy Hull, Winnipeg’s emergency preparedness co-ordinator. “Hopefully by June either Mother Nature or we will be able to catch up and have everyone done in the city.”

The frost now goes as deep at nine feet in some areas, Hull said. Four to five properties are added to the frozen pipe list daily.

The low number is allowing thawing crews to catch up.

“We are doing between 20 to 25 per day,” said Hull. “Some days have been better, some not as successful.”

The city has three electrical thawing machines. Hull said one of those is down for repair. There are also three high-pressure hot-water thawing machines being used.

The city has set a target of the May long weekend to have thawed all the properties without a temporary water line hooked up, Hull said.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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