2 seniors homes evacuated after pipes burst in extreme cold

Frigid temperatures caused pipes to burst at two separate seniors homes — one in Moncton and the other in Edmundston — over the weekend, forcing the evacuation of both buildings.

Theatre, school also sustain water damage blamed on weather

The Briarlea in Moncton had to be evacuated on Sunday evening after a pipe burst in the attic. (Submitted by Wade Perry)

Frigid temperatures caused pipes to burst at two separate seniors homes — one in Moncton and the other in Edmundston —  over the weekend, forcing the evacuation of both buildings.

Extreme cold also led to pipe problems that have kept a Petitcodiac school closed for the day, and some students won't be returning to classes until Thursday.

Twenty residents of the Briarlea, a special care home in Moncton, had to be removed Sunday night after a sprinkler pipe burst and caused flooding in the building.

The fire marshal ordered the evacuation as a precaution, Charline Johnson, operations manager at the Briarlea, said in an email.

"The Briarlea reached out to family members and trusted local operators for their support, all impacted residents were accommodated by either their families or two other care homes in the community," Johnson said.

"The Briarlea also sent key staff along with them in order to provide the necessary support to our residents and their team."

Chief Eric Arsenault of the Moncton Fire Department said firefighters were called to the home around 5 p.m. and were able to quickly turn the water off.

"We think the cold weather could have caused the sprinkler pipe to burst," he said. "A lot of water was released and flooded a wing of the unit."

The chief said the water caused a lot of damage and there was concern about the electrical system. No one was injured during the incident.

Some residents stay

Johnson said the Briarlea will be working with a cleanup company and the fire marshal, so residents can return to their homes on Monday or "as soon as possible."

"The restoration company confirmed that the damage is not as significant as originally anticipated due to everyone's immediate actions," said Johnson.

Melanie MacDonald, a spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross in Atlantic Canada, said a dozen residents remained in the one-story home in an area that did not experience any damage.

Some residents were temporarily relocated to other seniors homes in the area, but the majority of the residents made their own arrangements to stay with family or friends. Codiac Transpo buses and Ability Transit were called in to help with the relocation of residents.

Today is really the assessment, the communication and then making the plan for the coming days to try and get people back in as quickly as possible.-Marc  Belliveau , deputy director of disaster management for the Red Cross

Marc Belliveau, the deputy director of disaster management for the Red Cross in Atlantic Canada, said volunteers arrived around 5 p.m. and stayed until about 11 p.m.

They did assessments and wellness checks with residents and also provided cots and blankets to people moving to other nursing homes.

"It was a little chaotic, but at the same time they understood that everybody was there to try to help them," he said.

Belliveau said he doesn't know when residents will be able to return to the facility.

"Today is really the assessment, the communication and then making the plan for the coming days to try and get people back in as quickly as possible."  

Anne Mooers, a spokesperson with the Department of Social Development, said department staff and special-care home operators are working closely with the restoration company and the Office of the Fire Marshal to make sure the affected residents can return home as soon as possible.

"The Department of Social Development takes the health and safety of all its clients extremely seriously," Mooers said. "We know this time of year can be difficult — especially if the province is experiencing a prolonged cold weather spell — and we are pleased everyone is safe and secure."

Edmundston complex evacuated

Meanwhile, tenants of a 50-apartment seniors complex in Edmundston, were also looking for temporary accommodations after a flood caused by a broken pipe.

A resident leaves a retirement home in Edmundston after a pipe burst Sunday evening. (Bernard LeBel/Radio-Canada)

The multiple-storey building at 30 Mgr. Pichette Blvd. was evacuated early Sunday evening, MacDonald said.

Of the 19 tenants originally assessed by disaster volunteers with the Red Cross, eight have been provided with temporary lodging and food.

"Ten tenants are being provided for by their insurance companies and one tenant is staying with family," she said in the statement.

"The Red Cross has not been contacted by other tenants who were evacuated though assistance is available if help is needed."

Radio-Canada reported there were no injuries and the building was completely empty at about 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Staff with the Department of Social Development are at the site and working with the operators, the Red Cross and utility companies, said Mooers.

School shuts down

On Friday, the Petitcodiac Regional School experienced a water line break that damaged the building and closed down the school on Monday.  

"There is a possibility that this

The school announced later in the day that it will be open Tuesday for students in kindergarten to Grade 5,

Students in grades 6 to 12 won't return until Thursday. 

Firefighters were called after a pipe burst at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton early Monday morning. (Catherine Dumas/Radio-Canada)

Principal Ewen Cameron said 8,000 gallons of water (about 30,000 litres) emptied into the school and affected six classrooms. He said there was damage to walls, books and desks inside those classrooms, and it could take between two and three weeks to repair.

The Moncton Fire Department responded to the Capitol Theatre as well after a pipe burst just before 6 a.m. on Monday.

The Petitcodiac Regional School experienced a water line break that damaged the building and closed down the school. 0:50

"There was a significant amount of water but the rupture was on the second floor over the front entrance way," said Paul Bruens, platoon chief with the Moncton Fire Department.

"So the property damage is contained to a small area of the facility."

'That really breaks our heart'

Kim Rayworth, managing director of the Capitol Theatre, says a temporary box office has been sest up. (CBC)

Kim Rayworth, managing director of the Capitol Theatre, said there's been some damage to the administration office on the second floor, and water also leaked down to the lobby, reception and box office areas and the basement.

But "it could've been a lot worse," Rayworth said.

"That really breaks our heart this morning to see some of that space being damaged by water."

Fire crews said a significant amount of water got into the theatre building. (Catherine Dumas/Radio-Canada)

She said the theatre has set up a temporary box office. There could be "some small disruption today" for staff, and the theatre will look into how its computers are running.

"The crew that's working here now is really hopeful that they'll be able to dry most of the things out," she said. 

In the worst case scenario, she said, they'll have to replace the drywall.  

Rayworth said the water was being cleaned up Monday. and there are no plays scheduled until Saturday.

"We're really glad too that this kind of comes in a bit of a dark period after Christmas," she said.

"I think our operations will resume quite quickly."

She said staff Moncton and firefighters were able to turn off the water quickly.

"Kind of fortunate … in our misfortune that they were able to quickly turn off the water and mitigate some of the damage," she said.

Firefighters, who were on the scene for more than an hour, said cold weather caused the pipe to rupture.

"It's been extremely cold out," Bruens said.

"One of the issues they do see in cold weather are ruptured water pipes."

With files from Information Morning Moncton