Area churches are lending their support and facilities to the Soldotna Church of God after a flooded basement forced the congregation to move out of the building two weeks ago.
Once other church members in the community heard of Soldotna Church of God's displacement, they started calling and offering to let the congregation hold services and other activities in their facilities, said Alan Humphries, pastor at the church.
"It's been wonderful," Humphries said. "It's really neat that the churches called. It's a real blessing to us and our whole congregation."
The flooding occurred Dec. 20 after a frozen pipe burst and filled the basement with 5 1/2 feet of water. The basement housed a kitchen, offices, storage space for sound equipment, the boiler and electrical boxes. All were ruined by the water.
"It's a mess," Humphries said. "Five-and-a-half feet of water is a lot of water."
A total estimate of the damage is not yet available, however it is likely to be extensive. All the carpet and Sheetrock in the basement will need to be replaced, as well as the electrical and heating systems in the basement. Humphries is working with an insurance adjuster to determine how much of the structural damage and ruined items will be covered.
"We lost everything as far as the contents," Humphries said. "We saved very, very little."
The flood has taught Humphries a painful but valuable lesson in insurance policies.
"We didn't have as much content coverage as I thought we did," he said. "I encourage all pastors -- and homeowners, for that matter -- to review their insurance policies and make sure their contents coverage has kept up with their current rate of expansion. It was something I didn't think about, but it really does matter, because most policies have a limit on contents. We've had the same policy for 20 years, but we never updated the value."
The clean-up process is well under way at the church, but Humphries said he still expects the congregation to be displaced for two to three months. So far the burst pipe has been repaired, the water has been pumped out, the carpet has been removed, and contractors are in the process of removing the Sheetrock.
After the flood, the church held its Sunday services at Soldotna High School and was forced to cancel its other services and programs for lack of facilities. Now the church is offering all its usual programs, just at different locations.
The Sunday morning service will still be held at 10:45 at Soldotna High School. The Sunday night service will be combined with a service at 6 at Soldotna First Baptist Church. The Wednesday night service will be held at 7 at Soldotna United Methodist Church. Late Night, the church's teen program, will be held at 8:30 Friday at Soldotna First Baptist.
"I'm really excited about getting together with different denominations and organizations. It's something we've been working on in the community for a lot of years," Humphries said. "We've been friends and we all know each other very well. It's neat to work together."
Humphries said he hopes to open the Soldotna Church of God building for office hours starting Monday. He plans to operate out of the upstairs offices from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Temporary heaters have been set up but electricity is still crippled, so office hours may have to be canceled, Humphries said.
As horrible as the flooding was for Soldotna Church of God, Humphries is optimistic about repairing the damage and excited about the opportunity to work with other churches.
"I really appreciate all the churches and individuals calling and supporting us," he said. "I hope we will be able to utilize this so something very good will come out of it."
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