December 18-19, 2023 Flood at the Brown Church

Our church building suffered immeasurable loss due to unprecidented flooding on December 18th, 2023. In order to reopen our church building for worship services, reopen our Food Pantry,  resume serving free community Dinner Bell meals, and welcome back the recovery groups and others who use our building for meetings and events we need help from the public.

Please donate to help us recover from this devastating flood.  To donate scan the QR code, or click the link button on either side of this page or if you prefer, mail a check  payable to Conway Village Church and mail to P.O. Box 333 Conway, NH 03818. For regular updates on our recovery process follow us on Facebook or join our Email list.   Thank you for your consideration and kindness.

Click the button below to visit our gofundme page to donate.  Thank you.

Photo Slide Show of the flooded church and damage incurred

WMUR News Hannah Cotter interview Rev. John Hughes 21 Dec 2023

Community Chatter Lisa DuFault interview Anne Getchell 5 Jan 2024

Our Sanctuary is unusable currently due to fuel oil fumes and lack of heat. Air quality is poor, but the cold air will soon force all vapors to exit the building – – it is just a matter of time and patience at this point. Our building is unusable for the near future.

This week has been challenging! I am sure everyone is aware that when the rainstorms came to the valley, the temperature on the summit of Mount Washington was above freezing. With 3.91 inches of rain in 24 hours, adding to the snow melting from the mountains, the power and the speed of water flooding was overwhelming. At 5:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, the basements, crawlspaces, and pantry were bone-dry; by 7:00 p.m. we were inundated. The smell of fuel oil was prevalent, our fuel tanks were floating on water, water heaters were under water, and circulating pumps were rendered useless.

The first order of business was to get the Church delivery van to high ground and protect it (it would be needed in the coming days!). We then cut the electricity at the circuit boxes to all furnaces, blowers, and water heaters to guarantee we protected electrical circuits, to prevent fires, and make sure we were not putting people at risk. (The electrical company followed the next morning, killing all power to the building, per order of the fire department).

Our chief work this week was to let the flood waters recede, save what food we could from the pantry and transfer it to the Vaughn Center in North Conway. We appreciate them staying open for us and accommodating our needs. Any foods tainted were discarded and all paper and cardboard affected removed. It was critical we clear all surfaces so that drying could take place. All surfaces that were inundated with water were lifted, removed, and discarded. This is to attempt to save subflooring and sheetrock on walls if possible. This coming Tuesday, December 26 th , we will be arranging the removal of sheetrock affected and bringing in commercial dryers to prevent mold from forming and attempt to save what surfaces we can. All office space is presently unusable, and all church work is being done by cell phone or remotely. Our dumpster is full, and our dump runs have been completed.

When we began the work of this week, we were 26 th on a list of sites that needed evaluation, but because we acted decisively, emergency crews called and said, “If you are there, we will take you immediately.” As a church, we owe a debt of gratitude to Melody Bergman, who we gave lists of priority calls and contacts. Her thoroughness is truly a blessing. Our Fire Chief, Steve Solomon, has offered us valuable information about recovery and safety, Pope Security about why alarms were blazing.

Anne Getchell, Nancy Divine, and I met daily to coordinate workers, volunteers, inspectors, and adjusters – – it has been a blur of appointments. We have catalogued everything that was damaged and removed, as well as everything we were able to save and transfer. It has been 3 days of standing in a cold, damp environment, on wet floors, with flashlights and headlamps, attempting to mitigate damage. It has also been three days of remarkable good spirits – – one worker said, “we’ve never worked for people like you!”. Paul and Sil Weld thoughtfully brought coffee and donuts for workers; Nancy Irving brought pizzas for lunch. Nancy Divine, Anne Getchell, and I have been looking into where money might come from to help fund our recovery, who offers emergency relief, what forms we need to fill out, who we need to contact, what procedures we need to follow, what information we need to provide.

As you can imagine, we try not to “bite off more than we can chew”. Our first phase is to mitigate the loss we may suffer, secure funding wherever possible, and get us up and running as a church and community support organization. Our Sanctuary is unusable at this time due to fuel oil fumes and lack of heat, but our upper floor was damage free. Saying that, all stuffed chairs will need to be cleaned and sanitized on every level of our building, electronics will have to be evaluated, damaged freezers, refrigerators will need to be discarded, as they have been rendered fire hazards. We will then be able to make an accounting of what our financial loss is.

I appreciate everyone who has called offering their prayers, good wishes, and offering to help in the future. We are truly blessed with a community that cares – – for that I thank God. In this Advent Season of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am constantly reminded that,

God places Obstacles before Us
And, at the Same Time,
Provides People of Faith and Goodwill
to Overcome Them.

Blessings to Everyone this Christmas Season,
May God continue to be with us and bless us,
Rev. John G. Hughes