Mario Rodriguez, right, is among about a dozen people who volunteered to dry the gym floor at the Perrysburg Heights Community Center.
Jason Craig walked into a flooded gym at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, just before he planned to close the Perrysburg Heights Community Center after almost a dozen children and adults had stayed there for warmth during the winter storm.
A pipe froze and "exploded," Mr. Craig said, spraying water that covered the basketball court. Water also flooded a small plumbing compartment between walls next to the gym, and oozed out of the seams of the wall and a toilet in the bathroom next to the gym.
"I couldn't believe it," said Mr. Craig, the Perrysburg Heights Community Association treasurer. "It was coming out like a fire hose."
He guessed the pipe burst about 30 to 45 minutes before he walked into the gym and discovered the flooding. Mr. Craig couldn't fit in between the wall, so his daughter Brooklyn Craig did. The water was nearly up to her knees and "spraying everywhere" but she turned off the water valve.
"Sometimes you have to do what you have to do," she said. "It was really cold and I tried to find the shut off switch."
Eight children and two adults had spent the night at the community center the last few nights to stay warm. The center was open to the public during the severe weather since Sunday. Twenty-two people stayed overnight on Monday.
Everyone slept on the other side of the center opposite the gym, where there is carpeting and food.
"It is a good thing we didn't sleep in the gym," Brooklyn said.
The water was eventually turned off, and the clean up started. Children had towels, mops, and squeegees trying to push the water off the gym court outside. More folks from the community heard about the pipe burst and came to help.
"We play ball here all the time," Mario Rodriguez said. "We wanted to come show our support and appreciation."
Helpers ranged in age from adults to 6-year-old Madison Salisbury. Most of the children had taken off their shoes that became ruined in the water, and were in socks or bare feet. One girl had plastic bags wrapped around her shoes to protect them. By about 2:30 p.m. the standing water was finally pushed off the court.
A few athletic groups were supposed to use the gym Wednesday, including a middle school basketball team and two volleyball teams.
Mr. Craig said the main revenue stream for the Perrysburg Heights Community Association is renting out the gym space and expressed concern that the water might have ruined the court. He's hoping it isn't, but said it would be tough to fix with the association's budget.
"Its a blessing the center was open," Mr. Craig said about finding the burst before the flooding was worse. "Within five hours this whole place probably would have been flooded."
Contact Matt Thompson at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.