Response to the August 2014 Flood

Since we do not meet in August, I thought I would share a brief update of the Union’s involvement in flood-related issues on our district. In consultation with Melanie Carey (who has given extensive time to this problem and care to these congregations), I know of 17 church buildings and 7 parsonages that experienced flooding. Some of the water damage was minimal (if any unwanted intrusion of water can be called “minimal”).

One of the 17 churches was the former Oak Park: Faith UMC. As you will remember, the congregation deeded the church building over to the Union and we have been managing it since July 1. Just when we had it prepared to show prospective purchasers, the rains came. Water surged through the toilets and flooded the basement with raw sewage and human waste. It looked terrible and smelled worse. Fortunately, we had emptied out the building previously, meaning that there was little that could be damaged in terms of contents.

Without going into great detail, I hired Scott McCarrick, with whom we have often worked on large cleanup projects. He brought in a crew and several pieces of large equipment (fans and blowers). The bottom line is that everything is now clean and decontaminated. The smell is largely gone. Better yet, Bill Skubik has four showings in the next several days. Our out of pocket cost was $5,400. We expect to recoup this from insurance. Fortunately, we were able to attack the problem immediately.

As concerns other churches, the hardest hit was Warren: First UMC. The water damage was massive and the destruction, great. There are many work teams in and around the Warren area, given the incredible amount of destruction visited upon the community. I was at the church last Wednesday afternoon and took an emergency check to the church volunteers who needed funds to pay for pumps. I am currently working (on my own initiative) to help replace some of the music library, which was totally lost. Would you believe that the Warren church has a new music director who starts this Sunday–and no music?

I have also had direct contact with Detroit: Peoples UMC, Detroit: St. Timothy UMC, and the Berkley and Clawson Charge. Beyond that, I have talked with most of the other churches by telephone. A lot of our conversations have involved insurance-related issues and I have found Keith Howard’s counsel to be extremely helpful. Some of our churches are well-covered, others less so.

I have been in conversation with Eric Miller, who is the leader of our Detroit Annual Conference Disaster Response Team. I first met Eric as a lay person at Shelby Township: New Hope UMC. At that time, Eric was heavily involved with a wonderful VIM team known as “Get in the Car Ministries.” As of June, Eric is serving as pastor of the Davisburg UMC, while continuing his regular employment. Today, Eric is recruiting adult work teams from a multi-state area to come and lend their aid. Since we now have a property management agreement with the former Shelby Township: New Hope UMC, I have worked out a way for these visiting teams to be housed in the New Hope building. Call it one more way of being “connectional.”

As most of you know, Bishop Kiesey sent out an appeal to our churches for a special offering. In addition, some UMCOR funding has already been made available, with the possibility that more may be forthcoming. Once these amount are known…and the needs for funding are carefully calculated…I will coordinate anything extra you may wish to do on behalf of the Union. I think such discussions may take a while. In the meantime, I try to talk to pastors and a few trustees, the better to lend whatever encouragement I can. It has been quite a week.

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