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Tropical storm floods Pennsylvania congregation again

BuxMont UU Fellowship scurries to clean up extensive water damage before 50th anniversary celebration next week.
By Donald E. Skinner
9.12.11

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The BuxMont UU Fellowship in Warrington, Pa.

The BuxMont UU Fellowship in Warrington, Pa., pictured here before the storms, sits on the bank of the Neshaminy Creek. (BuxMont UU Fellowship)

When Hurricane Irene passed through Pennsylvania in late August, members of the BuxMont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Warrington, Pa., worked through the night to prevent the fellowship’s building from flooding. They got two to three inches of water in the lower level and considered that a success.

The fellowship wasn’t so fortunate last Wednesday night. Another wave of torrential rain from Tropical Storm Lee put a foot and a half of water into the fellowship’s lower level, causing damage that was still being assessed on Thursday. The fellowship sits on the bank of the Neshaminy Creek.

“With Irene we knew it was coming and we had sandbags placed and people at the church all night,” said Randy Faulkner, Building and Grounds chair. “We rolled up the carpets and put the furniture up. Some water came in, but we had it all cleaned up in two days.

“But last night we got hammered,” he said Thursday, Sept. 8. “I walked out of my house this morning and noticed that half my garden had washed out into the street. I thought I better check on the fellowship. I got here at 7 a.m. and opened the doors and let the water out.”

The fellowship lost a number of sofas, other furniture items, and carpets. Many of the religious education supplies for the year just starting were destroyed. The religious education rooms are in the lower level. Undetermined items belonging to a synagogue that rents space in the building also were damaged or destroyed.

“We’re still identifying what we lost,” said the Rev. Dan Schatz, BuxMont minister. “We won’t know for several days.” He said the critical factor is whether drywall, and the insulation behind it, will dry out or will have to be removed and replaced.

“In a couple days we’ll either be breathing sighs of relief or dealing with major repair work,” said Faulkner.

Schatz noted the congregation will be celebrating its 50th anniversary Sept. 18. “We hope to be ready to celebrate. This episode will be just a little more history to add to it.” Religious Education Director DawnStar Sarahs-Borchelt said, “My personal focus is do we have a room to have RE in this Sunday?”

Schatz said any needs that the congregation will have will be posted on the website of the Joseph Priestley District of the Unitarian Universalist Association. “We’re thinking there will be ways that other congregations can help, but we don’t know what those are yet.”

He added, “We’re very grateful for all of the people who have helped us out thus far and for everyone’s good thoughts. A lot of people had it worse than we did. We’re counting our blessings.”

By Thursday afternoon Faulkner had had enough of wet carpet and siphoning water. “This is the second dumpster we’ve filled in a couple of weeks. It’s starting to get old.”

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