VALPARAISO, Ind. - Early Wednesday morning inside Walt's Place food pantry in Valparaiso, "it looked like the walls were crying," said Jennifer Wright, CEO of Hilltop Neighborhood House. "If you look where the foundation is, this foundation here was just seeping water. Crying down the wall."
It was a waking nightmare for pantry volunteers as six inches of water took out power to the freezer and fridges and ruined half of their donated food and supplies.
"It was completely heartbreaking throwing all of that food away knowing that it got destroyed over the flood," said pantry volunteer Lizette Piña. "It could have done so much good for the people in our community. And the fact that we just had to toss it? Just...everyone was in tears."
Wright says the Walt's Place food pantry helps about 600 local families every month. Now with so many empty shelves, "I'm disappointed that we're going to have to disappoint people for even a little while. That they're going to come to our doors and we're not going to have anything to give to them, that's the most concerning part to me," she said.
Chris Clause is a long-time client of Walt's Place.
"It makes me sick looking at this," he said, staring at all of the food discarded in the Dumpster.
Clause knows what it's like to live without.
"I was in the woods. It was hell. It was horrible. Almost two years in the woods in a tent," he said.
For him, becoming a food pantry client was life changing.
"These guys always got fresh stuff. I mean everything. Toilet paper, paper towels, they've got everything you want," he said.
That's why Jennifer Wright is spending every moment she can rebuilding.
"It might be raining in your life, but it's flooding in someone else's. So we will rebuild, we will restock our shelves, we just need to find a new location. Because this one's unusable," she said.
Walt's Place food pantry has been around for coming up on 23 years. If you'd like to help them get back on their feet, you can make a tax deductible donation at hilltophouse.org.