The Yellowknife Royal Canadian Legion Branch 164 is closed until further notice after a serious flood.
When Legion branch president Tammy Roberts got the call from her landlord Monday morning, she raced over to the building.
"A lot of the ceiling had collapsed and there was probably a couple of inches of water all over to the floor," she said.
But Roberts was most concerned about saving the Legion's showcase of military memorabilia, which includes uniforms, medals and photographs — and by the time she got there, water was just starting to seep in.
"These are things that are really important, that the community has trusted us to put on display," she said. "And we were able to make sure nothing got damaged in the showcase. That was my main priority."
Since Monday, Roberts says she and others have been hard at work "cleaning up, throwing things out, shampooing chairs and wiping things down," and trying to get rid of the moisture so repairs on the ceiling can begin.
"It's just a matter of waiting on the place to dry, which is really hard to do when it's so cold outside," she said.
According to Roberts, the flood started in Coyote's Bistro, which occupies the floor above the Legion. A sign on the building's door says the restaurant is currently closed for vacation, and no representative from the restaurant was immediately available to comment.
Roberts hopes the Legion will be able to reopen in early January — but that is her most optimistic timeline. In the meantime, she says members are going to miss their community gathering space.
"A lot of regulars come to the Legion," she said. "It's more like a family atmosphere than anything, so not being able to open for members is really disheartening."
Music NWT 'dodged a pretty good bullet' as instruments stayed dry
And the Legion was not the only community organization affected — in preparation for a youth music program, Music NWT had been storing its instruments in the Legion space.
"[On Monday] I received a phone call from the director of the Legion, with great urgency in her voice, that they were having a flood that was happening at that moment," said Music NWT executive director Trevor Sinclair. "That's where we have all of our Music NWT gear.
"We had about $20,000 worth of musical instruments there."
That includes an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar, "a very nice keyboard," microphones, sound boards, amplifiers and a drum kit.
Sinclair could not go down to the Legion himself, as he is isolating after a possible COVID-19 exposure.
"So I quickly reached out to Music NWT members and a few other friends who were able to get there in short order with a couple of pickup trucks, extract all the music gear and deliver it to my house," he said. "But now you've got wet gear traveling in –30 degree weather, so we have to move very, very quickly."
After bringing all the equipment into his house, Sinclair was kept busy taking apart speakers and assessing the extent of the damage — which he says could have been a lot worse.
"All the musical gear appears to be in good shape because of the protective casing that we had on it, so thank goodness for those things," he said. "It appears the speakers took the brunt of the damage."
Sinclair is waiting until the speakers are totally dry to test them. Each speaker cost $650 new, so the flood may have caused a few thousand dollars worth of damage in total.
Still, if the youth music program had already been up and running, Sinclair thinks more of the instruments would have been out of their cases on Monday morning. Instead, because the program has been delayed due to COVID-19, everything was still packed away.
"I suppose the silver lining is, if it was all set up, I'm sure the damage would have been much greater," he said. "I think we dodged a pretty good bullet."
As she surveyed the flood damage, Roberts was also grateful to discover that almost everything that got wet in the Legion is fixable or replaceable.
"The best thing people can do is be thankful that it wasn't worse than it was, be thankful that everything that was really valuable in our showcase wasn't damaged and keep their fingers crossed that we'll be able to open and it isn't going to take a long time for the repairs," she said.