ERT and VIM volunteers put forth amazing effort at Hogansburg UMC
Ten Upper New York Conference Early-Response Team members (ERT) and Volunteers-in-Mission (VIM) team members (two from the Crossroads District, one from the Albany District, and seven from the Northern Flow District) came together on April 2 and April 3 to begin restoration of the Hogansburg UMC, which is on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in the Northern Flow District. The church was damaged by flood waters of the St. Regis River in February of this year. Together, these team members devoted 95 hours to this clean-up project.
The water damage was confined to the basement of the church, and both the furnace and the sump pumps had been spared, so there was little remaining standing water. The water depth had been about 2 ½ feet. Most of the walls and floor were concrete, but drywall had been installed in the kitchen and part of the fellowship hall, and a wood floor laid in the kitchen about 8 inches above the concrete. The refrigerator, cooking stoves, and the cabinet surrounding the sink were soaked, as well as much of the furniture in the fellowship hall. An already shaky stairway was soaked up three risers, which made it even more unstable.
The team removed all the non-salvageable items; cleaned and sanitized all others; removed the appliances, sink cabinet, kitchen floor, and 4 feet of drywall where ever it had been wet. The entire basement was power washed and sanitized using Shockwave. The stairway was taped off and the local folks agreed that it would not be used at present; a second stairway was not damaged.
The team of volunteers experienced a couple of surprise blessings during this clean-up project.
Sylvia Reimer, team leader of the clean-up project said, “We were blessed by being housed and fed by the Centenary UMC in Malone. We give thanks to Pastor Heidi Chamberlain and members of her congregation.”
Sylvia mentioned another amazing blessing that occurred as part of this project. She said, “The Disaster/Mission teams of the UNY Conference had agreed to pay for the dumpster used to haul away the trash (three loads!), but when we asked about payment, we were told that the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne considered this part of the flood recovery and covered the entire cost. Praise and thanksgiving for that!”
Mike Block, UNY Director of Missional Engagement, also volunteered at Hogansburg UMC; he said, “We’re grateful to have team members to step forward in times of need. It’s not always pretty and not always fun, but the result in resolving the need is always rewarding.”
Sylvia said, “Thanks to all the volunteers and to the support from local persons, both off and on the reservation. Praise to God for strength and calling to service.”
Now that cleanup is completed at Hogansburg UMC, plans are being made to fully restore the basement this summer. Volunteers will concentrate on replacing the drywall and rebuilding the stairway. The kitchen floor will need to be replaced also before the kitchen can be made serviceable again. ERT and VIM members will be on board, but anyone willing to volunteer can do so.