The Montana Rescue Mission could use a little rescuing right now.
Early Saturday, a watchman discovered the basement of the former Granny’s Attic, at 2804 Minnesota Ave., adjacent to the MRM’s men’s shelter, had flooded. The water reached about 10 feet at its peak level, said Denise M. Smith, MRM’s public relations director.
Before the water could be shut off, it spread into the basement of the men’s shelter. The city of Billings was able to shut off the water by 7:30 a.m., and NorthWestern Energy quickly shut off the electricity.
“We’re pumping the water out,” Smith said Saturday afternoon. “It’s come down probably 5 feet so far.”
Granny’s Attic, which is owned by the MRM, is used for storage these days. But the problem is the community dining room at the men’s shelter, which is housed in the building’s basement.
Men living at the shelter will be temporary housed at the MRM’s administrative offices. But the emergency situation has closed down the dining room.
On average, the MRM serves 200 meals a day in the dining room and shelters an average of 68 men each night.
The dining room had been shut down for an upgrade project. Food had been prepared at Pilgrim Congregational Church and then served in the dining room.
“New concrete was poured down there in the spring, and it was just dry enough so we could lay down flooring to get the kitchen up and running,” Smith said.
Now the flooding has scuttled the project, the dining room is no longer available and the church's help has come to an end. The MRM is turning to the community for aid.
The nonprofit is looking for volunteers to aid in the clean up. Even more critical is the need for food.
The MRM is asking for the public’s help in providing hot ready-to-serve meals for shelter guests, as well as food that can be served cold, such as sandwiches, fried chicken, salads, other food items and water.
Food Services of America has donated the use of a freezer and a refrigeration truck for storing food, Smith said. Food in the kitchen refrigerator and freezer probably is OK, she added, but all of the dry goods have probably been lost.
Executive Director Perry Roberts expects to discover the source of the flooding once the water is pumped out.
“Until we are able to get into the building to assess the situation, it’s hard to put a finger on the damage at this point,” he said. “Our No. 1 priority is to get the OK to again house our guests in the shelter and to once again shelter meals in the community.
To donate food, or for more information, call 294-7935 over the weekend, or 259-3800 on weekdays.