Can you put down 2 melds of the same card? For instance, a friend accidentally started 2 piles of 5's. Should they have been combined?
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Problem #1 - No clear answer
There are a wide variety of variations on Hand and Foot. The versions I've played with people who "know the game" have always allowed a clean and a dirty of the same rank, and never allowed wild canastas. (The two variations I've learned both use the term Canasta for a completed meld; some versions of the written rules use the term books.)
For clarity - some terms:
In the Versions I learned
Yes, you can have a second meld of a given rank, provided:
Usually, this happens right after someone goes to their foot.
In versions with no extending and no oversize canastas
You can close a canasta and immediately start a new meld of the same rank (provided you have the 4+ cards of specific ranks to do so).
In your situation
Tactically, unless you needed the clean canasta, or the extant needs a single card to complete, they should have melded those 5's into the extant 5's.