The dining hall of the Huntington Station-based Helping Hand Rescue Mission suffered water damage after pipes burst due to the weekend's single-digit temperatures. The planned reopening of the recently renovated hall will now be delayed, said the Rev. Kimberly Gaines-Gambino, the charity's president. Credit: John Roca

The planned reopening of a Huntington Station facility used to feed the hungry is being delayed due to burst pipes.

The water damage happened overnight Sunday in The Helping Hand Rescue Mission’s Florence Meringola Dining Room on Broadway, destroying the inside of the recently renovated building. The 27-seat dining hall was set to reopen Jan. 25.

"We were all excited; today was going to be the day of getting things organized for the reopening," said the Rev. Kimberly Gaines-Gambino, the mission's president.

Gambino said she doesn’t yet know the cost of the repair, but expects insurance to cover everything. The main building of the charity, where a food pantry and clothing collection site are located, was not impacted.

The 40-year-old two-story building with a dining room, small commercial kitchen and attic storage has been closed to patrons since March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mission was selected in October by two local Lowe's Home Improvement stores as part of its Community Heroes for 2021 campaign.

The charity received new flooring, painting, lights and some other improvements.

"They did a whole project for us," Gambino said. "Now all that good work that they did is pretty much destroyed."

Lowe's media contact did not respond to a request for comment.

Gambino said the heating system in the building was recently replaced and because of the weekend’s single-digit temperatures she had been constantly monitoring it. Sunday night she went to bed and all was well.

"But I woke up Monday to the sound of the fire alarm next door," Gambino said. "I went over and was mid-calf deep in water."

Brian Gerken, a plumber and owner of Huntington-based Gerken Plumbing Heating, said the damage is such that the building needs to be "completely gutted" and repairs can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars. He said a sprinkler line broke so there was a lot of water flooding the area.

"That was on the second floor, so when that let go, all that water ripped all the sheet rock on the second floor; just imagine that amount of water and volume, once the insulation gets wet it gets heavy and soaked and everything came down."

Gambino is hopeful things will be up and running eventually.

"We do have insurance so we have to navigate through that with them and the restoration company," she said. "Our main building is fine and we can continue the food pantry, but we were looking forward to having the meals and things again."

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