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Social Services offices suffer water damage

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

Erie County Social Services workers may find out Friday if some will be back in their regular offices next week after a sprinkler blew on Monday and flooded part of the Hens & Kelly building on Main Street.

The department store has been gone for decades but its former home at 478 Main has been leased to DSS for years and houses an array of offices, mostly children's services like CPS.

Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger says he is meeting with the building's owner Ellicott Development Friday to find out when the damaged space will be cleaned up.

"Some of the staff had to be moved out of the area where the water came down. But we were able to move them and it didn't hinder operations at all. Staff were great," Dirschberger said.

Some papers were soaked and had to be dried. There doesn't seem to be any damage to computers, Dirschberger said. 

"We just basically had to move bodies so we were able to respond to community needs as we always do. And, the staff was very, very good at helping with that."

Dirschberger says he hasn't yet learned what made a sprinkler pipe blow out in the summer.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.