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Presbyterian churches in the northeast dry out from last week’s heavy rains

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance provides grant support

by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service

Flooding shut down the westbound Schuylkill Expressway at King Of Prussia, Pennsylvania on August 13, 2018. (PennDOT traffic camera photo)

LOUISVILLE — Cleanup continues in parts of the northeast following last week’s heavy rains and flooding. Torrential rains dropped several inches on communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Hundreds of homes and businesses were flooded and cars were submerged in the muddy water.

National Weather Service authorities say one community received as much as five inches of rain in two hours, forcing many residents to be evacuated by boat. Emergency response centers were opened after thousands lost power from the storms.

Newark Presbytery leaders say two churches were damaged by high water.

“There was extensive damage to the basement of one church where a pre-school is held,” said the Rev. Dr. Barbara Smith, general presbyter for Newark. “In this case, there are several natural springs and the ground was so saturated, the water got into the basement.”

Smith says a couple of inches of water got into the gymnasium at another church. There were no other reports of damage among churches in the area.

In the Presbytery of Northumberland in Pennsylvania, the heavy rains forced creeks to overflow in the southern and eastern tier of the presbytery.

“There was some minor damage in Bloomsburg, but Benton suffered the most damage in our presbytery,” said Executive Presbyter Stephen Cureton. “The church is located right off Fishing Creek and the water came right through the church, blowing out the basement windows, leaving a heck of a lot of mud in the basement.”

Cureton says once the water subsided, volunteers rallied to help the church clean up.

“The presbytery was able to pull together about 20 volunteers from five different churches to shovel out the mud,” he added.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) contacted both presbyteries and is providing a $7,500 grant to the Presbytery of Geneva in New York.

“What is not supposed to happen seems to be happening more and more,” said Jim Kirk, PDA’s associate for Disaster Response in the U.S. “There has been widespread flooding in Eastern Pennsylvania. PDA has reached out to Lackawanna and Northumberland Presbyteries with offers of assistance. In addition, PDA has shared information about the immediate response from the Pennsylvania VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). PDA will continue to monitor the response and recovery and offer help as needed.”

Weather officials say it was one of the most significant heavy rains in the northeast that wasn’t connected to a tropical storm.

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Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is able to respond quickly to emergencies because of gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing and designated giving. To support PDA’s response to flooding in the U.S., designate gifts to DR000191.


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