Saturday, September 03, 2011

An of Saturday 9/3

Dear friends,
 To keep you all up to date.

Let me tell you, this has been an....experience. We got the quote from Servpro disaster relief for remediating the flood damage in our buildings. If we get the furnishings out ourselves, the tag is just under $35,000. That is before we address rebuild and repair/replacement of utilities and appliances...and replacement of lost furnishings. I would guess we are going to see a price tag of near $100,000 or more before the final nail is driven.
The good news: the vestry voted unanimously to move forward with the sanitizing of the buildings. This should put us weeks ahead of where we would have been using just our own volunteers, and will conserve our energy and resources for the rebuild.....
We are still waiting on the gas company to confirm that we can rebury the exposed line (and get earth moving equipment in to deal with the ersatz swimming hole that was the west parking lot.
PSE&G has arrived on site to review the washout and the exposed pipeline. The good news is that they are not only committed to covering the exposed line, they are also going to back fill the other washouts that have closed the access road. We are blessed that they are stepping up, beyond and above the call of duty. At this point in the day (5 PM) the back fill is largely completed. The backhoe operator had to quit, as there was an "all stop" order for the company because two workers were severely injured in an accident at a home in Manville. Please pray for all the utility workers as they strive to restore vital services, particularly for their safety....

As the ground dries out, and I only mildly smell of mud and muck, I give thanks and praise to God for all of you. Both for the donations to the discretionary account (it is already buying food, school clothes and supplies, comfort and relief to people affected by the flood. We are still waiting on a FEMA rating that gets folks some support from the Federal Government. Folks are doing well as can be expected, but nerves are beginning to fray. Reports yesterday of people starting to loot homes down where my Junior Warden lives are starting to come in, and there was a pretty riotous meeting with the mayor of that township (of which a parishioner is town business administrator) to which police had to be called.
According to reports in the papers, the person taking things from those homes was apprehended. After several visits to the Fagans and their neighbors, I can tell you that not only is their spirit amazing; but that people from the community around them have continued to assist in the cleanup, as well as distributing water, soft drinks and meals-quite literally from the backs of children's wagons and from the liftgates of their cars.

At this point, I have had reports that after a week, there are field kitchens and support services being set up in the neighborhoods that have been decimated. Life is no where near normal, but the blessings of people caring for each other continues to keep folks moving forward.
As well, the folks coordinating our school supplies drive have reached out to local school principals and teachers to make sure that we can also help any children they become aware of who have lost their back-to-school supplies and clothes. Aside from the gifts from our donors that we have been able to distribute, we have already given out over $400 in assistance in that regard.

There are more blessings that are in process, including a local business that is willing to front us up to $100K as an emergency loan.  Though that loan will have to be repaid, it does give us the ability to move forward quickly and stop any greater damage from mold (or other contaminants) that would have built up had we had to wait for the significant monies needed to even start the clean up efforts. God is with us in such an amazing range of ways.  

God is good. We have been blessed with great coverage in the local press (thanks to Maria Fergusson's efforts to get the word out), as well as others on Facebook (Mary Ann Grennen, Lorraine Wehrle and a host of others) who continue to share the stories and expand the numbers of people praying for us and who continue to offer to help. Thursday, and yesterday, saw people driving up to the Church in order to express their prayers, their support and as well, making donations. We have received support from United Water, Wells Fargo Bank, the Spotswood and East Brunswick Funeral Homes and other local businesses.

Most of all, I give thanks for Mike Kinman, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis (a dear friend and colleague group member), mobilizing folks (nationwide) to assist. You really can't know what it means to me personally to have you all supporting us with prayers. Not to mention your gifts...each dollar brings comfort and relief to someone hungry, without shoes, etc. The other night, I was asked by a parishioner who was volunteering with the school supply drive how I can still be smiling after the last few days. "Easy," I said. "I know I am not alone. We have God working for us, and more friends than we can ask or imagine praying for us."

To date, hundreds of dollars have been donated from across the Church, social networks community members and parishes, reminding us that we are one Body in Christ with many members. St. Peter's is blessed to be the recipient of this grace...and this now gives us the opportunity to not only be grateful for such a host of witnesses; but also to be mindful of and committed to the recovery of others as well. God has blessed us with the chance to receive so much, so that we have been able to continue to give generously to the comfort of the lost, the broken and the needy.

I got no troubles. Only blessings to count.

Bless you all.

The Rev. Marshall Shelly
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life." -I John 5:13

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