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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Broken Pipe Floods Paramount Theatre Basement

ANDERSON, Ind. — The day after the night before, Gayle Jones Burris was trying not to blame herself for the burst water pipe that flooded the Paramount Theatre on Monday, leaving some basement areas underwater.

The facility’s director was overseeing extensive labor by several companies to put the theater back on its feet.

“I’m mad that I wasn’t here,” Burris said Tuesday.

The building was still without power, although generators were helping. A great deal of the damage could not be estimated, she said, until central power was restored and certain systems could be powered up.

“There may have been power surges or shorts,” she said.

The power plant, along with sound and lighting boards, were flooded with current still in them. Standing water boiled from the heat.

The reason for the burst pipe was still unknown Tuesday, and Burris declined to speculate. A light dimmer panel and the building’s power plant are both disabled and need to be repaired or replaced, Burris added.

The local firms on hand Tuesday had worked on the building before and are considered friends of the Paramount. A crew from another firm was there to clean up the mess.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to clean up this mess with our shop vac,” Burris said ruefully.

The main focus of Monday was to make sure the building was safe. Also of concern is main power, since generators are also supplying power to the Paramount Theatre Centre’s two tenants: the offices of both U.S. Rep. Mike Pence and the Anderson Symphony Orchestra.

The theater did have insurance, and adjusters were there Tuesday. Still, it is not known how much the policy would cover.

So far, the only scheduling casualty has been the January edition of the Open Jam concert by local bands. Still on track are the inaugural Homegrown Hollywood Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 15, and the third annual Dancing Like the Stars on Saturday, Jan. 29.

“We will be up and running by mid-week next week,” Burris said.

Although others told her not to blame herself, Burris said, she couldn’t help it.

“My head says that, but in my heart, it just makes me sick,” she admitted. “And it’s on my watch.

“I realize that it could’ve been a lot worse.”

Since some Paramount donations are earmarked for specific uses, the theater does need some assistance to mitigate the damage. Individuals can send checks to The Paramount Heritage Foundation Inc., 1124 Meridian Plaza, Anderson, IN 46016. (Write “To fix flood damage” in the memo.)

“One thing I really, really want people to know is, they don’t need to feel like they have to send money,” Burris added. “If they would just come to the shows, that helps us regain ground.

“I hope they come to the film festival. I hope they come to the Johnny Cash tribute (on Feb. 26). If they come to events, that keeps us going.”

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