Be it ever so humble, there's no sewage in the Thrift Shop

There was a toilet. Then there was a hole in the ground.


This is not the exciting news some of you were told to expect this week. But it is still exciting! Working with Stephen J Tant Plumbing and with support from many of you in Remington and the wider Guardian Angel family, we now have backflow prevention valves on both of the main drain lines serving the church building and Kromer Hall.

This past fall, after 100 years with no record of sewage backups on the property, Guardian Angel experienced three major sewage floods within a couple of months. Thousands of gallons rushed up through the toilets from the sanitary sewer during heavy rainstorms, filling the Thrift Shop as deep as 5 inches in some places, as well as the green room of the Undercroft, the arts collective we're thrilled to host in our undercroft. The damage was more $30,000, though thankfully it was covered by our insurance other than a deductible, plumbing work, and some Thrift Shop items.

Department of Public Works crews, at the urging of City Council Rep Mary Pat Clarke, worked hard but struggled to find the underlying problem. After many attempts, a private crew hired by the city found a problem in the lines downstream of the Thrift Shop, under the street at the corner of Huntingdon and W. 27th. Between that and regular storm drain clearing, we've not had another incident. That was not a comforting resolution!

The junior warden's blood pressure went down when that part went in,
that's the backflow prevention valve.
But now we have one-way valves on both of the affected drain lines. In the Thrift Shop, they had to tear up the concrete men's room floor and move the toilet to make room for the backflow valve. But it's done, and we can now revel in the rain as a blessing from God instead of flinching and dreading our next visit after a storm.

In addition to Stephen Tant's crew, we'd also like to thank Metro Mechanical for their work on the Undercroft and gratefully acknowledge their donations made in connection with this project. We also thank the many people who donated to the Thrift Shop Restoration Fund; money from that fund paid for part of this work and for some replacement equipment for the Thrift Shop volunteers.

It remains a ... utilitarian space, the restroom. And we would love to renovate both bathrooms to modern standards of comfort. If that project strikes your fancy, it is still in the visioning stage and we would welcome your involvement. We also aspire to add air conditioning in the main thrift store space, an improvement we estimate at around $8,000.

Good as new? Perhaps not. Better than it was though? Yeah! And safe now. Safe is good.
The Thrift Shop is closed for the duration of the COVID-19 public health crisis. It will open back up when other retail opens, at the discretion of Sarah, Max, Val, Barb and the other volunteers. We are so grateful for all they do every saturday from 10am to 2pm, supporting the Food Pantry with their proceeds, providing affordable home goods and clothing to the neighborhood, as well as building and maintaining a loving community.

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