A Squirrel Hill center to help those with mental illness was forced to temporarily relocate this week after a severe thunderstorm on Wednesday night caused significant flooding.
For now, the Howard Levin Clubhouse plans to operate out of Charles Morris Hall on Munhall Road while it assesses and repairs the damage at its Murray Avenue location, according to Debbie Friedman, executive director of Jewish Residential Services.
“While we get ourselves together, we don’t want to close because our services are very important to the people we serve,” Friedman said.
The Clubhouse offers a variety of social services to those with a history of mental illness, from vocational and educational help, to psychiatric rehabilitation, to warm meals.
A Wednesday night thunderstorm dropped record amounts of rain over the Pittsburgh area. The city of Pittsburgh said Squirrel Hill and the North Side were the hardest hit neighborhoods.
The Howard Levin Clubhouse is located down from the parking garage of the Morrowfield apartment building. Friedman believes rainwater rushing down the street flooded the garage, and the water ultimately leaked through the ceiling of the Clubhouse.
“It’s like it rained in here for several hours,” Friedman said as she walked through Clubhouse after the storm, her footsteps making a pit-pat sound against the wet carpet.
On Thursday, the staff of the Clubhouse began assessing the damage. Dozens of buckets filled with rainwater sat on the floor catching drips from the ceiling. The paint on the walls is already starting to buckle. A section of a drop ceiling collapsed in the bathroom.
Friedman said the flooding damaged Clubhouse files, ruined a cabinet full of office supplies and wrecked printers, phones, a fax machine and a cash register.
Staff members draped black garbage bags over their computer monitors to protect them from the flooding, but they don’t know yet if the measure prevented any damage. “A number of them got wet. Whether they’re ruined or not we don’t know yet,” Friedman said.
Other Jewish agencies in town, like the United Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Center, the Agency for Jewish Learning and Shaare Torah Congregation, immediately reached out to the Clubhouse offer help on Thursday.
“The first order of business is to get all dried out and make temporary arrangements so we can resume services Monday,” Friedman said on Thursday afternoon.
The Clubhouse appears to have been the Jewish organization hit hardest by the storm, although several Squirrel Hill synagogues reported carpet damage from minor flooding.
Friedman said those looking to help should call JRS at (412) 325-0039.
(Eric Lidji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)