October 29nd 2012
Port Monmouth Community Church was captured on video. Here is the morning prior to landfall that evening with the water being pushed up through the meadows. I've also combined another video which is a "drive-by" view up Main Street, Port Monmouth past PMCC of aftermath .
Hurricane Sandy: The Super Storm.
October 29th Off shore it remained a hurricane Category 2 Storm. Hurricane force winds extend 175 miles out from Sandy's eye. The storm weakened to a post-tropical cyclone in the evening just before making landfall along the Southern New Jersey coast. Making Landfall this storm merged with a cold front turning Sandy into the worst case scenario.
A Major Nor'easter
Nasa / GSFC
This storm interacted with a cold front which also arrived off the eastern US coast enhancing Sandy's size and wind field. Sandy ultimately was roughly 900 to 1,000 miles wide.
This time chart provided by:
NWS National Weather Center
Is BIGGER than any storm
Take another look at the video at top of page. Really!
"We are so small in the scope of how BIG our God IS."
The trials we all go through here on this earth can truly test our faith. When this storm came with all it's fury under the darkness of night, the aftermath left behind at break of dawn was gut-wrenching. This storm was heartbreaking and the emotional toll that followed was beyond any words to explain.
We all know and have family members, parishioner's, neighbors, friends, Co-workers that list doesn't end there. Communities and the businesses that serve us as well where effected. Many of our community neighborhoods where completely leveled and destroyed leaving so many homeless.
Places of worship: Our very own Port Monmouth Community Church took a direct hit. The storm surge was 13 feet which tore through the foundation, removing siding, buckling the front door filling the sanctuary up to the windows with storm surge along with all the debris.
Cleanup, Restore, Rebuild: Where do you start?
All focus turned to The Father!
Truly in the midst of all this chaos God was already at work. He had placed His people, true servants of the cross to work at the most perfect time to help where needed in this massive cleanup & restoration process (which at times seemed endless.) Each individual who has donated their time, resources, skills, ( so many numerous individuals ) clearly each one of you made it a matter of the heart working to rebuild God's House. That my friends is what pleases the Father. Selfless devotion working for Christ is allowing Christ to work through YOU. That's Right! He's ALIVE friends.
Through your untiring willingness to reach-out, your kindness, compassion you've lifted your fellow believers up above the flood waters, muck, mold and despair and reinforced faith that was being tested, including your very own. Many of you have had personal loss through this storm as well, yet you stepped up to the throne and let The Father lead your heart and hands.
Taking a look at the video footage we see a helpless dark despair.
But GOD IS ALWAYS Bigger than all our trials.
Seeing how God had transformed the Port Monmouth Community Church is indeed God Lead.
Saint Catherine Laboure and Entire Congregation / C.Y.O. / Holy Name Society
Anthony Ligouri, Bill Turner & The Blue Smoke Band and Lozarro Sisters
Texas Baptist Men
Bill & Gal Becholdt-Work Camp
Gorsegner Brothers Hardwood Flooring
Heartfelt THANK YOU to all of The WORKERS!
The list of names of all the Saints who have donated your time, talents, skills and huge hearts is so massive and numerous. God Bless each one of you. May your hearts always be lead to helping others.
"For The Sake Of The Call"
If the need ever arises again we pray you'll be there to lead a hand. We too are always here for you!
Click link Below
As everyone knows, Sandy was one of those storms that was categorized as 1 in a hundred years. The church sits, according to the Army Corp of Engineers, 7.6 feet above normal flood stage. Based on the water marks in the church, we had nearly four feet of water in the main sanctuary. That equates to nearly a 13 foot storm surge. This is the first time since the church was built in the 1890’s that there is a record of water entering the church itself. Several times we had water in the “basement” of the church, but never in the sanctuary.
Right after Sandy hit, several of our members went to the church to check on the damage. It was almost a week later that I was able to get to the building: not that I did not try, but the National Guard would not let me into the area. So I was able to see the damage via photographs that were taken by those who were able to get into the area. Finally they let me in. I was heart-sick. The interior of our beautiful little church was literally destroyed by the flood waters. Thank God, there was very little structural damage to the building. So now the clean-up began.
But before we get to the recovery, let me lay out some interesting information. In the very early days of the re-opening of the church by my parents (and a handful of believers in 1950’s), my father had made a friend of the priest of St. Catherine’s church in what was then called East Keansburg. He was a wonderful Christian man affectionately known as Father Ted. They worked hand in hand within the community, focusing their efforts on getting rid of pornography that was getting into the hands of children. (Through their efforts, the law was passed that required all such material to be displayed out of the reach of children and enclosed in plastic envelopes.) Then just a year or so before Sandy, I had undergone surgery and during my recovery I went to a free summer concert in Berkley Heights, NJ. It was there I met Anthony Liguori who was doing an Elvis tribute show. He had made several references to God during his show. Something told me to go up to introduce myself to him and tell him I enjoyed his show and that I was a clergyman. He told me he was studying to be a deacon in his church. Well, one thing led to another and we became friends over the internet. Most of our communications were via the email as I am very difficult to understand on the telephone. We would exchange some sermon ideas over the years. As I look back, I know my father’s relationship with Fr. Ted and mine with Anthony was definitely the Hand of God at work. God knew in his ultimate plan that both men would play an important part in our church. Let me explain further.
While everyone was working on the “clean up and salvage” efforts, I was making phone calls to find us a place to worship. I was striking out. Everywhere I called was either unavailable or already being used as shelters for Sandy victims. I was getting discouraged (I am human too). Then one evening, my telephone rang. On the other end was the current priest from St. Catherine parish, Pastor Dan Hesko. He had been going through his church records and found the relationship with Fr. Ted and my father. So he dug deeper and obtained my telephone number and called me. “Pastor Don, how did you make out with Sandy?” I told him we were virtually destroyed in the interior of the building. He then asked, “Where are you holding your worship services?” When I told him that we were not meeting because I could not find a place where we could hold our worship services, he immediately told me, “You have a place now, you can meet in our parish hall.” Well, surprise of all surprises….we arrived that first Sunday morning to find out in front of his church a large “A-frame” sign with our name on it and an arrow pointing to the parish hall for our meeting. Inside he had arranged for chairs, a pulpit, and an electronic piano for our use. He even allowed us to use their kitchen for our “coffee and…” that we share after each Sunday service. When it was all said and done, after nearly 6 months, he refused to take any money for the use of their facilities. What was also amazing, is that St. Catherine’s is situation within a few hundred feet of the same body of water that inundated our church…but God spared their property.
During the time we were at St. Catherine, Anthony Liguori called me and said that he and his band would do a fund raiser for our church if we could find a place to hold it. I began looking again but once again I was striking out. That Sunday, Pastor Dan came to me and said “You know brother Don, you should have a fund raiser.” “Funny you should mention that, I have been trying to find a place to hold one now.” I told him of Anthony’s offer and without hesitation he said “You can hold it here.” That started the wheels turning. We met with Anthony and set a date. But that was not the end of it. Pastor Dan had me meet with his CYO and his Holy Name Society. They would rent the stage and chairs and covering for the gym floor. They went out and obtained food donations, sold tickets (which were donated by McInnes Press of Red Bank, along with the advertising posters) and in general pushed the sale of the tickets. Anthony did his show with Bill Turner and the Blue Smoke and the Lazarro Sisters. When he did his version of “How Great Thou Art”, the entire audience of over 600 immediately gave him a standing ovation long before the song was over. When it was all over, I asked Pastor Dan what we owed him for the use of his facilities and he said “Nothing, use the money raised to rebuild your church.” They raised nearly 10 thousand dollars for our benefit. Without their help, we would still be attempting to rebuild.
Now let us get back to the actual recovery. I remember that several of the men of the church came and secured the building as both doors had been ripped of their hinges by either the water or the high winds. After the building was secured we began the salvage operations. The men and women from our congregation, AA (many of whom had lost their own homes), neighbors, and friends all showed up and we began to see what we could save. A large number of the books from my father’s library were destroyed and that really upset me…but I tried not to show it. After all, I am human too.
We were working as best we could, but honestly, we did not know where to begin. Then a man showed up and said he heard that a church needed help. He surveyed the situation and told me he would be back. I was not sure if I could believe him or not. I have to be honest, in my mind I was thinking “sure, I have heard that line before.” But he did come back and he brought with him a large trailer with all kinds of equipment and around 22 men and women from the Texas Baptist Men’s Association. They were in the area, and heard we needed some help. God working again…they were supposed to have gone to New York to work there but somehow got detoured to our area. They said “stand back, this is what we do best, clean up after a disaster.” The leader told me “Preacher, go away, this is our job, your job is to preach and pray, we will handle the clean-up.” Well, clean-up they did. For a week they worked from early morning until there was no more light. When they finally left, we had a “gutted shell” that had been cleaned, power-washed and sanitized. While they were power-washing, I went into the church and said to the worker, “Please don’t get the floor wet.” We all got a laugh at that one as the church had already been under water. They salvaged our pews and whatever else was able to be salvaged. Without their help, I believe that we would probably still be digging out. The side of the church had some siding washed away with the storm and a group of carpenters from the Adelphia Baptist Church came up from Farmingdale and closed the holes with plywood.
Because of the contaminations in the water, the water in the basement of the church was a problem…the town could not help. No one could help. Pumps were not available anywhere as everyone had the same problem. Finally after many weeks with the water still in the basement, the Middletown Fire department sent a crew with a couple of large pumps and pumped out the basement.
We began the rebuilding process. We wanted to maintain the “old country church” look we had but at the same time, restore it to a more modern facility. We had many issues to deal with…first the furnace which was held together with duct tape, bailing wire, WD-40 and lots of prayer. It had to go. The heat exchanger was rusted out completely. It was a wonder that we did not burn the church down using that old furnace. I was put in touch with a heating contractor who installed a new furnace, removed the old one and for less money than we could have purchased the furnace ourselves. God working again.
Our electrical was another issue….the wiring in the church was installed around the time Franklin discovered electricity. Right after the storm, looters stole the power meter and mast. But the men of the Texas Baptist Men’s group went out and purchased the materials out of their own pockets to allow the power company to reinstall a meter. Then the men of the church, led by Billy Schacht, rewired the sanctuary. Then they put up the paneling and made it look just like it was before Sandy.
The storm had created another problem: the original floor was asbestos tile. They were popping up all over the room. We had a major problem…remove the old tiles. Since it contained asbestos, we would have had to call in a specialist at the cost of $25,000 to remove it. Further research revealed that we could also encapsulate the tile. So we covered it with heavy plastic, and then installed plywood over it. I went to Home Depot and ordered a commercial grade of floor tile. It was on the truck to be delivered when I received a phone call from Gorsegner Brothers who said they would like to help. They would install an oak floor and would have members of their “school” sand and stain the floor and altar area. That was a “no-brainer” and I called Home Depot to cancel the delivery. Gorsegner installed 1300 square feet of hardwood floor. It is just beautiful.
Then there was the item of the sound system. Before Sandy, we had a single channel 40 watt PA amplifier and two speakers from a home stereo sound system. It was destroyed by Sandy….so I went shopping. I was looking for something we could afford and went to Bayshore Music. We were able to purchase a 400 watt, 13 channel sound system by Yamaha and two professional speakers and stands for less than the cost of the speakers. Now we have a tremendous sound system that is capable of handling our needs for a long time.
After Sandy, my dream of a new sign for the church with a movable lettering was finally realized. Mike Elton arranged to have it made in the shop where he works, and was installed with the help of members of the church.
The building needed repainting and Bill and Gail Bechtoldt arranged for help from the work camp to help with the painting along with members of our own congregation and the people from St. Catherine Laboure. The pews were sanded and repainted, and then a little later cushions were made and donated by Wanda Wohlin….another beautiful addition. (For the record, Wanda has served as our interior decorator for the church).
New front and back doors were donated through Bill Bechtoldt along with (just recently) 2 new windows for the rear of the building.
These are just some of the hi-lights of the work done. I could not begin to name everyone. Our entire congregation helped…our AA members helped….St. Catherine’s church sent over helpers, the community pitched in….I could not begin to thank everyone personally…there were just so many helpers and financial contributors, (in fact, I do not know all the names of those who helped and as to who did what, besides, I am horrible with names) but no one who worked on the restoration expected to be given a special “pat-on-the-back”, but they did it for the glory of God (and He keeps better records than I ever could).
While Sandy did hit our community hard and the church did receive a lot of water damage, the building was spared. Several houses on either side of the church were totally destroyed to the point where some had to be torn down. Yet God spared His house. To a certain extent it was a good thing….we had a lot of work that should have been done over the years and Sandy forced us to work together to get it done. As pastor of the church, I can be very proud of our congregation and the efforts put forth so that His church could continue to be a beacon of light in our community. Everyone who did anything at the church did so as a service to Jesus Christ and His message. The folks at St. Catherines showed everyone what Christianity is all about…they could not do enough to help us. It was not about Roman Catholics vs Protestants, it was about Christians working hand in hand for the glory of God.
While Sandy did its handiwork, God did His handiwork and restored His House for His Glory.
Praise be to God.
Click link to see:
God's Glorious Restoration
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