Surrounded by 57 inches of water--and some great neighbors
MONTOUR FALLS--Usually the Bethel Fellowship Church is preaching love your neighbor. Now the church is experiencing that love for itself.
Located just a few hundred feet from Catharine Creek along Route 14 in Montour Falls, Bethel Fellowship's building took a hard hit in the flooding earlier this month.
"We had 57 inches of water in the basement," said Joanie Boring, "Oh my gosh, it's a disaster down there."
Boring, who is the church's treasurer and a board member, said the basement housed the church's furnished fellowship area, Sunday school rooms, kitchen and heating system.
While there's been water in the basement before since the church's founding in 1972, it's never been this bad, Boring said.
Bethel Fellowship has about 30 attendees each week, most of whom are elderly. It also hosts weekly meetings of Schuyler County's chapter of Narcotics Anonymous.
After church leaders discovered how bad the situation was and realized they couldn't handle it on their own, Boring said she first contacted Servicemaster. That plan didn't work out when they were told it would cost $9,600 to remove the water and do clean up.
So they contacted the Montour Volunteer Fire Department, which came and removed all but a few inches of water. Church members then set up their own sump pumps and spent the next 12 to 18 hours getting out the rest of the water.
While all of this was going on, the church had another looming problem outside that a good neighbor decided to solve for them.
Several inches of mud and silt covered the building's three-acre site, preventing cars from driving onto the driveway or accessing parking.
Ray Forker Excavation & Supply, located just to the north, started pushing the silt with heavy equipment into piles to clear the driveway, which circles the church in a large "u" shape. Then they brought in loads of stone and spread it around to make the area drivable again.
While the helper didn't want his name used, Boring calls him "that amazing man next door."
She said Arrowhead Disposal in Beaver Dams also moved them to the top of the list for a dumpster after hearing it was a church in distress.
Mud is still clinging to everything downstairs. Members are ripping out soaked drywall, carpets and furnishings. Most things, including all of the church's Christmas decorations, are completely destroyed.
Fortunately, the upstairs sanctuary and other rooms are untouched.
While it will take months, if not years, to return the church's basement to the finished state it was in before the flooding, services and meetings were back in session this past weekend.
If you'd like to volunteer to help with clean up or donate items, you can contact the church at 607-535-4492.