September 15, 2018 10:10 pm
Updated: September 19, 2018 10:11 pm

‘Everything’s gone’: Maple Ridge child care and services centre devastated by flood

The intense thunderstorm that swept through Maple Ridge on Friday caused major damage to a local homeless tent and a daycare centre. Julia Foy reports.

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Child care and social services for nearly 600 kids are up in the air on Saturday after flash floods badly damaged a family services facility in Maple Ridge.

The Start Smart Child Care Centre and Ridge Meadows Child Development Centre share a property on Dewdney Trunk Road that was hit hard by flooding brought on by Friday’s abrupt thunderstorm.

WATCH: Maple Ridge flooded amid unexpected thunderstorm

Walls, floors and carpets were inundated with water, and staff fear they could be contaminated or breeding mould.

“Everything’s gone. We’re just absolutely devastated,” Sanya Boatter with Start Smart told Global News.

READ MORE: Hail, flash floods hit Maple Ridge as thunderstorm slams Metro Vancouver

“We opened this up 10 years ago and we started from scratch, and just to see everything gone and just to know that the little kiddos aren’t going to be able to come in here Monday morning is just… Where do you go?” she added.

Boatter said employees frantically phoned her Friday evening to say water was coming into the building while kids were still inside. She rushed to the facility to find water up to her knees in the parking lot and ankle-deep inside.

Damaged cribs and mattresses at the Start Smart Child Care Centre.

Global News

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Boatter said it’s looking unlikely they’ll be able to reopen on Monday, a huge problem for the families of 180 children registered there.

“Obviously, the kids are our number one priority,” she said.

“(We’re) trying to find places for them to go where it’s safe and so we can provide the same service we do every day.”

READ MORE: Severe thunderstorm warning ended for northeastern Metro Vancouver

Next door, the situation may be even worse.

The Ridge Meadows Child Development Centre serves about 400 kids per year, providing a variety of services ranging from speech and language therapy to physical therapy for kids with conditions like cerebral palsy to occupational therapy for kids with behavioural issues.

“They won’t be able to come in the building because the carpet has been flooded with basically sewer water. Not sewer water but drain water,” said executive director Trish Salisbury.

“We have black water and mould and we have kids who have compromised health conditions who we cannot have come into this building.”

Fans on the water-damaged floors of the Ridge Meadows Child Development Centre.

Global News

She said insurance adjusters and remediation crews are on site, but it could be several months before the property is fit for use with kids again.

“We’re now just dealing with that shock of how are we going to continue to serve all those kids. We honestly can’t provide a skip in their care,” she said.

Salisbury said if there’s a silver lining, it’s that staff are able to work remotely with some clients, visiting the kids at their homes or other daycares, but some will be out of luck.

She also fears being shut down could mean other kids slip through the cracks.

READ MORE: B.C. prisoners tapped to help guard flood-stricken communities against high water

“Families may come in here to refer their children, and we’re going to have a closed sign,” she said.

“Sometimes it’s hard for a family to acknowledge (they) need help, and if they see that closed sign they may not come back.”

Trish Salisbury says most of the furniture at the centre will have to be thrown out.

Global News

Salisbury said her group is a non-profit, and while it does get some government funding to pay wages, all of the centre’s equipment and furniture was bought with donations.

Boatter said it’s too soon to say how much she’ll need to replace at the daycare but that there is one crucial area where the public can help: finding the daycare a temporary home.

“It would be nice if anybody has any ideas of where we could take these children and be able to run our services,” she said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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