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ER closure, displaced seniors, damaged homes: Cold snap fallout in Lower Mainland


Mission Memorial Hospital is diverting patients from its damaged emergency department, and a Surrey care home evacuated seniors after extreme cold saw water pipes ruptured there, CTV News has learned.

Those healthcare disruptions are in addition to homeowner and commercial damage throughout the Fraser Valley as a result of pipes that’ve frozen and burst in record-shattering cold.

Mission’s hospital will be closed indefinitely after stagnant water gushed from pressurized sprinkler pipes that ruptured in the emergency department, prompting staff to evacuate patients to safety to avoid falling pieces of the ceiling.

“We’re still assessing the extent of the damage and I’m not able to give any clarity right now in terms of what the timeline is going to be to open this part of the hospital again,” said the hospital’s medical director, Dr. Paul Theron. “It will be impactful to other hospitals to some degree and we’ll know more in the next couple days.”

Emergency patients are being diverted to Abbotsford and Maple Ridge hospitals, each about 20 minutes away from Mission. Signs at the hospital urge people to call 911 if necessary and the ambulance station adjacent is operating as normal. 

“We’re going to do our very best to make sure that this service is back as soon as possible,” said Mission Mayor Paul Horne. “The timing couldn’t be any worse. It’s already a very busy time in all of the ERs across our region.”


Mission Memorial wasn’t the only Fraser Health facility facing cold-related operational issues. Carelife Fleetwood in Surrey had to bring in portable heaters to warm elderly residents after their heating system failed, and short-term residents were displaced when frozen pipes burst and flooded part of the facility.

“This is a very fluid, dynamic situation, as you can imagine,” said Fraser Health’s regional medical director for long-term care and assisted living, Dr. Akber Mithani.

Affected seniors were at Carelife after finishing hospital stays and either needed a little extra help before returning to their homes, or are waiting for placements in long-term care. The process for the latter is being expedited for them.

“We’re working very closely with our facility management team who are working really hard to ensure we can get back to some level of normalcy,” he said.

The section of Surrey Memorial Hospital’s emergency department adjacent to the ambulance bay also now has temporary heaters, since staff working near doors that constantly open and close have had to wear heavy coats as temperatures have plunged as low as -20 C with wind chill.


CTV News contacted several restoration companies, all of whom said they’d been fielding non-stop calls from homeowners and businesses grappling with pipes that’d frozen in the abnormal temperatures and ruptured, sending water gushing.

ServiceMaster’s Fraser Valley spokesperson, Tom Gouldstone, said many of their calls are from people frantic for help to turn off the water source. They’ve been so busy, there are delays in full damage assessment and remediation planning.

“It’s a triage stage we’re in at the moment and a lot of what we’re doing right now is mitigating, so it’s a lot of preventing it from getting any worse, setting up drying equipment,” he explained. “A lot of it is top-down, so it’s sprinkler lines in attics that are letting go and flooding all the way down, so typically much larger water damage claims than we see day-to-day.” Top Stories

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