Having Found Refuge From Abuse, Domestic Violence Victims Now Forced To Relocate

Key highlight: Frozen pipes burst at Dallas shelters; repairs expected to take months. You can help by donating with financial assistance or with physical items through their Amazon Wish List.

Having Found Refuge From Abuse, Domestic Violence Victims Now Forced To Relocate

The women and children seeking protection from their abusers started getting cold on Sunday when the power went out at one of Dallas’ biggest domestic violence shelters.

Bundled against the cold in coats and blankets, they managed pretty well until Tuesday when the overhead sprinkler system began to drip.

The shelter’s director decided everyone had to move out. Paige Flink, who runs The Family Place, posted on Twitter just before 2 pm that she needed help. Women and kids grabbed their bedding and what clothes they could carry.

“While we were waiting for the buses, the ceilings are falling in the shelter rooms,” Flink said. “Everywhere, pipes are bursting.”

By 5:30, the 43 women and 80 children, some just babies, had been safely moved to a church. DART supplied the buses and the Salvation Army gave cots.

At the emergency shelter and apartments run by Genesis Women’s Shelter, power went out on Saturday. Women and children could not cook and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Shelter employees charged phones in vans.

Wednesday morning, the pipes burst, said Genesis director Jan Langbein. Ceilings have fallen inside apartments and insulation is coating furniture that was recently upgraded. Twenty-nine women and fifty-eight kids had to move out. It’s the first time in 35 years the shelter has had to close, Langbein said. The shelter’s onsite school was also flooded.

Bursting pipes inside the ceiling at Genesis Women’s Shelter showered insulation down onto furniture. The damage caused the shelter to close for the first time in 35 years. (Rosy Kintzinger, Genesis Women’s Shelter)(Rosy Kintzinger, Genesis Women’s Shelter)

The devastation from the storm is only the latest crisis for victims of domestic violence, following a year of living under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have been quarantined with an abusive partner. Growing stress from job losses and family illness have compounded abuse and violence, advocates said. Some victims have had to weigh the risk of abuse against the possibility of catching COVID-19 in the communal setting of the shelter.

A men’s shelter run by The Family Place also had to be evacuated, Flink said. Six men and two children temporarily moved to another facility after a power outage left them unbearably cold.

Clients from both Genesis and The Family Place are relocating to hotels, other shelters and the homes of friends and family members.

Now the shelters face the challenge of cleaning and repairing. At a Genesis apartment, soggy pink insulation dangled from the ceiling, partially covering couches and coffee tables. Inside a room at the Family Place, a portion of the ceiling was splayed out on a couch and fallen insulation appeared to be piled up several inches deep.

Insurance will cover some, but not necessarily all of the repair costs, Flink said. She wants her shelter built to withstand an extreme weather event.

“When we build back, this can’t happen again,” she said.

Both shelter directors say it will take several months to repair the damage. The first step is removing the water. The last time Flink checked, water was two inches deep at her facility. A work crew is scheduled to start removing water from the Genesis facilities Friday morning.

Also top of mind is finding funds to pay to shelter the clients. Hotels are expensive, and Flink said she was working to find a temporary facility until the building can be fixed.

Both shelters said they continue to serve the community and will work to help anyone who needs a place to stay. To contact The Family Place, call 214-941-1991. To contact Genesis, call 214-946-HELP (4357).

People can also help by donating at www.familyplace.org/ and www.genesisshelter.org/donate. To give physical items to Genesis, please see their Amazon Wish List here.

Source: Dallas Morning News