Extensive flood damage repairs underway
Since a broken sprinkler pipe caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage at Jamie’s Place in Winthrop last month, staff have been scrambling to continue providing care to seniors now spread throughout the Methow.
“All in all, we’re lucky. Nobody was injured, our residents are safe,” said Rana Clarke, executive director of Jamie’s Place. “Our families and our community have been amazing.”
While the damage turned out to be more extensive than they’d feared, Clarke said the time estimate for getting the six residents back into the building has decreased from several months to about six weeks.
The buildings will need all new cabinets and new flooring. Much of the ceiling was damaged and a portion of the wallboard will also need to be replaced. All of the bathrooms will need to be completely replaced. The damage is being covered by insurance, and Clarke estimated the cost at around $50,000, but said the exact price tag won’t be known for some time.
Jamie’s Place had an existing $5,000 from the Community Foundation of North Central Washington to upgrade bathroom fixtures to those that abide by more current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
One of the reasons for the quicker turnaround on the project is permission from the state of Washington to move residents in before the kitchen is complete, since staff can use the kitchen in the other building to prepare meals.
“It’s going to be really nice to have it all done,” Clarke said. We’re going to put this all back together and we will be better for it in the long run.”
At about 11:20 a.m. on Jan. 7, emergency crews responded to a 911 call from Jamie’s Place reporting a possible roof collapse after the previous week’s 2-plus feet of snow in the valley.
Clarke was in the building at the time, and recalled hearing a strange noise right before seeing water pouring out of ceiling fixtures in a resident’s room. The resident wasn’t there, so staff and a visitor started moving the person’s belongings. Before long, the ceiling caved in and water poured into the room, eventually flooding the entire building with several inches of water.
It was later determined that the roof was intact, but that a fire-suppression water pipe had frozen and burst. No injuries were reported.
Firefighters stayed on scene to attempt to save furniture and squeegee water out of the building.
Jamie’s Place staff immediately evacuated the six residents up to the second home on the property — known as Mountain View. Two immediately went to stay with family and four were given temporary accommodations at Regency Omak Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
“And then there was this huge COVID outbreak at Regency,” Clarke said. Jamie’s Place staff found out about the outbreak at Regency on Jan. 17, talked with their residents’ families and decided to move them again.
“So we had to uproot our people again. … There’s no other option really,” Clarke said. “I can’t even imagine the kind of toll that’s been taking on them but they’ve been really resilient.”
Over the summer, Jamie’s Place had permission from the state to temporarily house residents at a location in Brewster in the event of a wildfire evacuation. Seeing this as a similar emergency, Jamie’s Place and Regency moved the four residents in Omak to Brewster. Since then, three are with family locally and the fourth is sharing a room with another person in the Mountain View building.
“They’re all safe; no one has had COVID. We’ve been incredibly blessed in that regard,” Clarke said, adding that none of the residents, referred to in-house as elders, at Jamie’s Place have gotten COVID during the pandemic.
“We’ve been really proud of that but diligent,” she said.
Last year, the Senior Assessment for Support and Housing (SASH) steering committee released a list of recommendations for increasing support for seniors who can age in place and who need regular medical care.
The survey found that the valley is currently short 28 beds needed for long-term housing for seniors, and that by 2025, 200 valley residents will need a caregiver at least part time.
The recent incident at Jamie’s Place threw that shortage into sharp relief.
“This really just highlights the critical need that we have in this area,” Clarke said. “There literally was no place to take them. There was no safe place, safe harbor for these people.”
One of SASH’s recommendations was to increase Jamie’s Place’s capacity, now at 12, by 20 beds.
“I think it’s just reaffirmed our commitment. We’re talking to our neighbors here … and discussing what it would look like if we could expand on the footprint of Jamie’s Place,” Clarke said.
All of the discussions are preliminary, but the problem is an urgent one.
“I think that that is putting a fire under us to make a decision for sure,” Clarke said.