LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – After water backed up through the drains and spread throughout the WAFER building in La Crosse, crews were busy on Monday ripping up carpet inside the building. On Saturday, WAFER lost power and suffered flood damage, which resulted in roughly 200 pounds of lost food.
“It stinks. It smells really bad in here,” WAFER Executive Director Erin Waldhart said.
Roughly 30 volunteers helped Waldhart and her staff transfer 35 pallets of food into a separate warehouse on Sunday—saving roughly 10,000 pounds of food. “Yesterday when I got the call (about the flood damage), I wanted to cry. I was fearful that we were going to lose our perishable product like our frozen meat or our cooler items and thankfully, we didn't lose any of that product. I had a real hard time fully grasping the fact that we (may) have had to empty out our coolers and throw it all away when I know there are so many people in our community that are hungry,” Waldhart said.
Despite having normal hours on Monday and service cut in half, Saturday's storms could be the beginning of a long renovation process. “More storms are predicted for tonight so we can't bring our product back until we know whether we are going to have the same problem again,” Waldhart said.
About 1,000 square feet in carpet was ripped out of WAFER on Monday. “It was saturated from coming up through the drains. We're removing the carpet so they can dry out the whole floor area and then ultimately come replace it with other carpet and tile,” WisCorps Operations Director Willie Bittner said.
With WAFER still operating through normal hours on Monday, it created a unique situation. “This is a little bit different because they (WAFER) are running the non-profit today, so they have people in here getting food,” Bittner said.
Waldhart said WAFER is still accepting donations, and they are thankful that they lost “very little” food. Waldhart said WAFER won't have a timetable for when they will add new carpet or tiling until the river levels lowers and when she feels there's a lower risk of WAFER undergoing the same problems.
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