Florence dealt area churches a blow

View The Original Article Here

A month later, many area houses of worship are still repairing damage from Hurricane Florence.

Many Southeastern North Carolina houses of worship are still recovering from Hurricane Florence, a month later.

Winds from the hurricane — which made landfall Sept. 14 at Wrightsville Beach — tore off the roof ridge at Wilmington’s historic Temple of Israel, leading to extensive water damage to the sanctuary at Fourth and Market streets. Restoration on the building, recognized as the oldest Jewish house of worship in North Carolina, is expected to take months, accprding to Rabbi Emily Losben-Ostrov.

The temple has contracted with SDI Construction, which aided with the major restoration on the 1875 Moorish-style building in the 1990s, to work on repairs. In the meantime, the Reform congregation will hold services in its Reibman Center for Kehillah at 922 Market St. Rabbi Losben-Ostrov’s formal installation as the Temple’s rabbi has been postponed until the spring.

Grace United Methodist Church, 401 Grace St., lost slate tiles from its roof in the storm, and rain poured in through the church’s distinctive tower and through holes in the roof, into the sanctuary and basement. Much carpeting was lost; a line of church members had to clear mounds of soaked debris from basement storage rooms, and industrial humidifiers spent hours drying the sanctuary area.

Two windows were also blown out in Grace’s Sunday school building, with moderate water damage, said Pastor Tal Madison.

For the foreseeable future, Grace is holding Sunday services in its Bullock Activities Center. In the meantime, the church is serving as a base for relief teams from the United Methodist Committee on Relief. “We’re going to be fine,” Madison said.

St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, at Sixth and Market streets, lost two of the ornamental copper finials off its steeple and some tiles from its slate roof, said Associate Pastor Mark Opgrand. Since different colored tiles made a distinct pattern on the roof, the slate will be particularly difficult to repair and replace, Opgrand said. The ceiling of the sanctuary suffered some slight water damage and will need to be repainted.

“Fortunately, this is all manageable,” Opgrand said.

A chimney blew down during Florence at First Baptist Church, Fifth Avenue and Market Street, blowing soot over the sanctuary. Church members cleaned out the sanctuary so worship could continue.

Aside from some chipped stained glass, St. James Episcopal Church at Third and Market streets suffered no leaks and no significant damage, the church reported. Its satellite Lebanon Church, next to Airlie Gardens, also escaped largely unharmed. A large number of trees and limbs came down on both properties, though, and had to be removed. One large tree fell on the church’s St. Francis Garden, but the fencing was miraculously unharmed.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of damage to places of worship.

Churches in more rural areas also suffered damage. Sandhill AME Church near Burgaw, Canetuck Missionary Baptist Church in Currie and the Shelter Neck Unitarian-Universalist camp facility outside Burgaw all suffered severe flood damage.

Reporter Ben Steelman can be reached at 910-616-1788 or Ben.Steelman@StarNewsOnline.com.