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Pipes burst inside Battered Women's Shelter and Rape Crisis Center of Summit and Medina counties

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Posted at 3:31 PM, Dec 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-28 18:43:38-05

AKRON, Ohio — During one of their busiest times of the year, the Battered Women's Shelter and Rape Crisis Center of Summit and Medina counties found itself scrambling after pipes burst inside its Akron administrative offices on Christmas Eve.

"It’s a natural disaster," CEO Teresa Stafford said. "We always want clients to have a space that’s warm and welcoming. We don’t have that over here right now. The ceilings are down, the furniture is damaged. The odor is starting to kick in. So, it’s a disaster."

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Prior to the pipes bursting, the center's empowerment room was used as a makeshift Santa's Workshop, offering gifts to those families who came into the center. Leaders told News 5 that any leftover gifts inside this room, meant for those who may have come in on Christmas, will likely need to be thrown out.

The damage did not extend to the shelter side of the building, however about 70 individuals were moved to a nearby undisclosed location while crews worked to secure power, heating, and other essentials to the complex.

"We’re already starting to shift some of the things to our shelter side of the building so we can continue those counseling, case management and advocacy services for those survivors in the community and not in our shelter," Stafford said. "We have our electricians, fire alarm folks, pumping folks, IT folks, every contract consultant that needs to be here has been here."

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The center helps up to about 160 survivors at a time; individuals dealing with domestic violence, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and child sex abuse.

Despite the extensive damage, Stafford told News 5 all their services are up and running at this time.

In the meantime, the center is calling out for help from the community, whether its money for art supplies or the basic essentials to help the dozens of survivors who stay at the shelter.

"The biggest need right now is help with meals," Chief Program Officer Ashley Kline said. "The kitchen is still down so as we bring people back into shelter, we will need that continued support for meals."

Families that normally stay on the unaffected side of the building should be allowed back inside this weekend. Stafford added the goal is to move back into the administrative offices in about six months.

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