San Rafael's Ritter Center needs help after major water damage to pantry, health clinic

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ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
Flooding damages pantry, health clinic at North Bay help center
Last week's super storm may be in the past, but the damage is still part of the present, particularly at San Rafael's Ritter Center.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- Last week's super storm may be in the past, but the damage is still part of the present, particularly at San Rafael's Ritter Center where they're now unable to feed their clients - low income Marin families and people experiencing homelessness.

RELATED: Strongest storm in years brings torrential rain, flooding to Bay Area

During last week's storm, Downtown San Rafael flooded. In photos, the street and area outside Ritter Center looked like a lake, which means inside, more than a foot of water destroyed much of the pantry operation.

"It's really hard for the families who come here, 350 families a week get food from us. It helps them to stretch their very limited income because they may need to pay for other things like gas and transportation and rent," said Ritter Center Executive Director, Mark Shotwell.

VIDEO: Marin County recovering from super storm

On Monday, there are few signs around Downtown San Rafael about Sunday's flooding. There are a some tree branches on the floor. People sweeping away leaves. But most of the streets are dry.

The water destroyed most of the food supply, as well as $10,000 worth of office furniture, equipment, and computers - all needed to run the center and its numerous community programs.

"It's important for us to get this up and running so we can help people who have lots of challenges in the world," explained Shotwell.

RELATED: Clogged storm drains cause flooding in San Rafael

"If it had not been for Ritter, I would have died because they looked after me, they took care of me, they got me all the doctors, they got me all the treatments and medications," said Ritter client, Sandra McMillion.

McMillion uses the Ritter's health clinic, which was also damaged by water, along with most of the outdoor COVID tents. It's unclear what that damage all adds up to, but McMillion, who used to be homeless, hopes people help Ritter, for the same reason it helped her.

"It made me feel like a human. For the first time in my life I felt like somebody cared."

Ritter is hoping to be fully reopened before Thanksgiving to ensure families in need receive their turkeys.

They accept donations on their website.