Juneau’s nonprofit homeless shelter, the Glory Hole, will be closed at least a month after a burst water pipe caused major flood damage last weekend.
Patrons and staff were adjusting to that new reality Tuesday.
Mike Ricker was about to go to sleep Sunday when the water started pouring down on top of him.
“It came down through the Sheetrock in the ceilings three floors, because it was in the ceiling of the third floor, and down through the light fixtures,” Ricker says. “The lights were on and the water was just pouring down out of them.”
Even though it’s technically an emergency shelter, Ricker has lived at the Glory Hole for about a year. He says he ended up homeless after getting behind on a number of bills. Now he’s working odd jobs and trying to get his life back on track.
Ricker and about 20 other Glory Hole patrons are housed at Juneau International Hostel for the time being. St. Ann’s Parish Hall downtown is hosting the shelter’s regular breakfast, lunch and dinner service.
Ricker says he’s grateful to the hostel and church for stepping up on short notice.
“If they weren’t open, then what option would we have, you know?” Ricker asks. “We’d be in a pretty tough situation. Thank God for them.”
Glory Hole cook Katie Parrott says the whole situation is stressful for both staff and clients.
“We just want to make sure that people know that we’re still serving food and handing out sack lunches, so we’re still operating to the best of our ability,” she says.
Parrott served about 10 people lunch on Tuesday, a smaller crowd than normal. She says the breakfast service for 21 patrons was about average.
“So it could be just, you know, a lot of people will be doing things throughout the day, maybe won’t be here for lunch but will be here for dinner,” Parrott says. “It could be that people are trying to find somewhere to store their things. Who knows?”
The closure of the shelter comes after the first big snowstorm of winter hit Juneau over the weekend. Glory Hole Executive Director Mariya Lovishchuk says the broken pipe had frozen before it sprung the leak.
Lovishchuk says insurance will cover the cost of repairs, but she worries people will forget about the shelter while it’s closed during the holidays – a time when the Glory Hole typically receives a lot of donations.
“One of the concerns that I have is that, you know, our fundraising efforts this year will not be as great,” Lovishchuk says. “So, you know, our operating funds for next year will be jeopardized.”
She says contractor North Pacific Erectors is already working on getting the shelter back in business, and the public can help by continuing to donate money and food.