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Rescue Mission On Long Island Suffers Devastating Setback After Pipes Burst, Flooding Newly Renovated Dining Hall

HUNTINGTON STATION, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A rescue mission in Suffolk County that helps feed neighbors in need is in need of a rescue, itself.

The deep freeze earlier this week caused a pipe to burst, flooding its soon-to-be reopened dining hall, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday.

The need is great in Huntington Station. The lines have been long for a free pantry that provides food, clothing, and essentials. But the one thing Helping Hand Rescue Mission has been unable to provide through the pandemic -- hot, nutritious meals -- was about to change. Its aging dining room, fully renovated, was to reopen next week.

But then, "I opened the door and water just started gushing out. I ran back and turned off the mains, but I was calf deep in water through the building," mission director Rev. Kim Gaines-Gambino said.

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Gaines-Gambino said she found the high-pressure sprinkler pipes had burst on Monday, flooding the just-finished dining room and kitchen, sparing nothing.

The charity was a recipient of the Lowe's "Hero's Project" and thousands of dollars in Lowe's-donated material and work was destroyed.

"We were so excited to start feeding the community that we serve again," Gaines-Gambino said. "They are people that could be your next-door neighbor. They are people who have fallen on hard times, people struggling to make ends meet."

As a result of the flood, high hopes are being torn down.

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Crews were gutting the dining facility on Tuesday, trying to salvage what they could. The rest was junked.

However, heartbroken volunteers said something good has come from the loss.

"People have been so good in donating time, money, food, clothing, so you have to kind of look at the silver lining," Renee Russak said.

"It's a lot of faith and a lot of good people. We do this out of our heart because we are committed to the belief in this place," Melissa Gusmano said.

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Serving the needy since 1965, the non denominational mission founded by Gaines' parents is tapping into its faith.

"I do believe that all things work together for good," Gaines-Gambino said.

The mission is hoping much of the damage will be covered by insurance, but the biggest loss will be to a community waiting nearly two years for in-person hot meals. Its reopening has been delayed indefinitely.

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