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Displaced Elderly Residents Spend Night in Church - abc27 WHTM

Displaced Elderly Residents Spend Night in Church

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Lynchburg, VA - Residents of the Bentley Commons at Lynchburg are returning to the assisted living center, after a burst pipe forced them to evacuate Tuesday night.

The executive director says once they got the okay from a building inspector that the residences were safe, they began bussing residents back in around 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Most of the 120 elderly people displaced spent the night with friends and family.

For a small handful, however, a local church was their only option.

Bob Wollott came with the clothes on his back.

"I didn't bring my toothbrush. I didn't bring my razor. I didn't bring a comb," Wollott said.

Wollott and 22 other elderly residents spent the night in the sanctuary of Blue Ridge Community Church.

Fire officials say a pipe burst at the Bentley Commons Assisted Living Facility, leaving them with no water and no electricity.

"I had been to the doctor and when I came back there were two fire trucks in front of Bentley. It all happened while I was gone," Wollott said.

While crews worked to repair the leak, the elderly sat next to the homeless at a makeshift shelter, playing bocce ball and watching I Love Lucy re-runs.

The church's pastor says they're prepared to keep them as long as it takes.

"We're here as long as they need us. Now, some have been asking, 'what if they're here 'til Sunday?' Well, maybe church will look a little different. So that's okay, too. Who says we have to sit in rows and listen?" declared Executive Pastor Dave Kountz.

While the church opened its doors, members have been opening their hearts. There have been so many volunteers some have been turned away.

"After 15 years of going to Blue Ridge, I would say this is probably the mountain top," Volunteer Tom Davidson said.

"A friend of mine said, 'the strange thing is it shouldn't be newsworthy that a church is helping out.' And he's so correct," Kountz said.

"The people have been great. The facility is beautiful. I couldn't ask for more," Wollott said.

The city of Lynchburg loaned GLTC transit busses to help take the elderly to the church. The executive director says they hadn't requested them to bring them back here.

The plan is to take several trips using the complex's bus.

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