Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center seeks donations after storm damage leads to electrical troubles
After taking on storm damages that led to a leaking roof and fried electrical equipment, the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach is seeking donations to pay for repairs.
Operations manager Debbie Wayns said the problem started Tuesday night. A technician was wrapping up for the day when she noticed the lights in the walkway were flickering. But when she went to turn them off, she found that they were already off and noticed smoke.
“So immediately, we turned off the electricity. We turned off that area and, because it was later in the day, it wasn’t until [Wednesday] that we did a little more investigation and took it apart,” Wayns said in a call Thursday. “A portion of the piping that goes into the electrical box had been separated, which we are assuming is how the water got in there. One of the boxes we opened up all the way was completely fried. It was burned, and you could smell it.”
The exterior electrical boxes serve the filters that are used to regulate the water in the pools the facility uses to treat animals. Three birds — two Bufflehead ducks and one Ruddy duck — were moved into an in-ground pool, where they’ll remain until either the repairs are completed or the center is able to transfer them.
Part of a ceiling tile broke due to a roof leak in the treatment and nursery room, and the leak is persisting even though the landlord added a temporary “Band-aid” since no real repairs can be made until the storms pass.
Executive director Debbie McGuire said there’s no way of knowing just how much the needed repairs will cost in the aging building where the center has operated for at least 25 years.
McGuire said she was thankful staff and animals were safe.
So far, she’s closed off the room where the ceiling was damaged for safety purposes, but she believes the roof is the lesser of two challenges the center faces. Her priority is to deal with the electrical issues, especially, Wayns said, as the “baby season” approaches for animals like ducks, opossums, squirrels, hummingbirds and songbirds.
“[Baby season’s] peeking its nose through our window right now. It’s waiting. We’re all holding our breath right now, waiting for all of this to happen. That could happen any moment,” Wayns said, adding that at this time of year it’s difficult to care for animals outdoors after 4 p.m. without electricity. “When it happens, it happens quickly. It’s not just one baby that comes; it’s a lot.”
“The biggest thing is here comes more money out of our budget,” McGuire said of the needed repairs. “We have our budget and I tried to stay within the constraints, but ... this has to get done. The sooner, the better.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the center had raised about $3,203.52 of an estimated $23,000 goal. Those interested in donating can do so by visiting snwbl.it/cCcAUA.
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