Flooding Hits East Coast Churches
Heavy rainfall from Hurricane Irene has caused flooding along the East Coast, impacting many RCA members and congregations.
In Hillsborough, New Jersey, pastor Stephen Eckert reports that South Branch Reformed Church has five to six feet of water and mud throughout the lower level of the church. The church is without power, and the pipe that connects to the well is broken, so cleanup is stalled at this time.
Update: Nearby Hillsborough Reformed Church had six inches of water in the basement and water in the first floor of the parsonage. Pastor Fred Mueller says church members have rallied and are working on cleanup.
As Schoharie Reformed Church in Schoharie, New York, was finishing its morning service on Sunday, an emergency evacuation was announced. Michelle Meyer DuBridge, sister of pastor Sherri Meyer-Veen, posted on the RCA's Facebook page that all of the homes in Schoharie are severely flooded, including the Meyer-Veens' home. The church is also flooded. Because of the emergency evacuation, people were only able to take a few things with them. Update: Sherri Meyer-Veen reports that Schoharie is sealed, but a church member who was able to get into the village provided an update that the church had water in the sanctuary and a basement fellowship hall was completely flooded. The Meyer-Veens’ house is flooded, along with the houses of several church members. The waters are receding, but a local fuel distributor’s tanks were damaged in the flood and that continues to make the city unsafe.
Prattsville, New York, was also battered by flood waters. Four to five feet of water came through Reformed Dutch Church, leaving behind seven to eight inches of mud. The back of the church's fellowship hall is gone, with just a sinkhole remaining. The organ and piano were destroyed, and the front doors of the church were ripped off. The parsonage was flooded with more than four feet of water on the first floor; flood waters came through with such force that they overturned a piano and moved the refrigerator from the kitchen to another room. Pastors Greg and Becky Town were able to evacuate to higher ground before the worst of the flooding. Many church members were also impacted by the flooding, and a number of homes in the town were knocked off their foundations and will need to be torn down.
Greg Town reports that the Red Cross and National Guard are sending helicopters with supplies, since the main bridge into town is closed. Locals have arrived using back roads and have started cleanup efforts at the church, including tearing down the fellowship hall.
Reformed Church World Service is in contact with impacted congregations and will continue to assess needs as more information is available. At this time, it is too early to determine if or when volunteers will be needed.
Please pray for the people and churches who have been impacted by the hurricane.
Posted 08/29/11; Updated 08/30/11
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