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‘It will be fine’: Fernie library basement floods, community pitches in to help

The library got help from the community and City of Fernie to remediate

The Fernie Heritage Library’s basement was flooded during the past week of wet winter weather, and community members stepped up to help clean and the process of remediation is underway.

Emma Dressler, library director, said the flooding in the basement was noticed on Dec. 27, the same day that travel advisories were issued for road conditions throughout the Kootenays due to severe winter conditions.

A library worker found the flooded basement when checking on the building, which is closed from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2.

“She went down to the basement and found a considerable amount of water in several of the rooms,” Dressler said, adding that the water was flowing.

Their challenge, Dressler said, is that the library had just conducted a large renovation to the basement to make way for maker space and area for community programming.

“As well as a staff office getting flooded, some of the maker space got flooded as well.”

The renovations had been ongoing for couple of years, and were completed by late fall. Soft programming had begun in the basement, but the official launch of the space, which was expected for the end of January, is going to be delayed as a result of the flooding.

A silver lining to the situation, according to Dressler, is that the technology of the space was not impacted.

“None of our computers were destroyed, which is great.”

Another silver lining was the help the library received from the community to clean up the situation.

“(It’s) amazing that, even though we’re closed and the library team members are supposed to be on holiday, so many staff members came in and brought their families. And then we had community members volunteering yesterday (Dec. 28) too, to shovel snow and break ice and everything as well, which I think is just amazing.”

“It shows how many people value the library.”

She also spoke about the City of Fernie, which owns the building, and said they are a ‘very good partner’ and quickly sent a remediation contractor to the library.

“We’re very fortunate that this only happened on the 27th, and that the City has already had someone come in. We have a remediation contractor on site this minute.”

The damage was still being assessed at the time of the interview with The Free Press, and Dressler could not qualify how bad it was. She did say however that the flooring and carpet were impacted, and that they were assessing the damage done to the drywall.

Speaking about the fact that the library is in a heritage building, she said that it is more challenging to fix than a modern building.

However, she said that all would be fine.

“This is all in the basement. It will be fine. It’s just going to create some short term challenges for us.”

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