Irvine food pantry puts pieces back together after crippling flood damage

Tuesday, September 4, 2018
OC food pantry puts pieces back together after crippling flood damage
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A food pantry in Irvine is only able to give a fraction of what it normally hands out after flood damage caused extensive damage to the facility.

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- Sandi Foster and other volunteers sort out food at the South County Outreach food pantry in Irvine, handing out half of what they normally provide.

Three weeks ago, flooding caused by a broken pipe in a restroom caused extensive damage to the facility, including the food pantry, the warehouse and a computer training lab, which destroyed three computers.

"I was devastated honestly," Foster said.

Fans dried out the area, but the flooring had to be removed. Shelving for food still lies stacked on the ground.

People would normally grab a cart and shop. Now volunteers offer pre-packed bags.

"Kids are going back to school, we're not able to meet what they are used to getting here," Lara Fisher, CEO of South County Outreach said.

About 2,000 people a month in south Orange County rely on the pantry's food.

"Of 2,000 people, 70 percent are working households, really the working poor," Fisher said.

Others like Chuck Ouellette, are seniors on fixed-incomes.

"I'm not going to get the type of food that I normally get, which means I'll have to supplement myself, and I think everyone is in that same boat," Ouellette said.

Fisher said the nonprofit spends about $500 a day to buy perishables to distribute.

They also have to rent storage units across the street to hold non-perishables.

"Those were all things that were not budgeted for us," Fisher said.

Fisher said bids to repair the pantry range from $100,000 to $250,000. It's not clear how much insurance may cover.

Fisher hopes for cash donations and more volunteers once they start repairs.

"Some of the estimates are this could take 30 to 60 days to have it back operational," Fisher said "We can't have that. We really need to get this up and running as quickly as we can, so we're able to assist people."