Hurricane floodwaters pack punch to Vermont UCC church members
Written by Jeff Woodard August 30, 2011
Credit: Emily C. Heath
Responsible for 38 deaths and days-long power outages to
more than 3.3 million people, Hurricane Irene has left a mucky mess for many
UCC church members in the Vermont Conference, and across New England.
"Dozens of our congregants have been displaced. Their homes
have been either partially or totally destroyed," said the Rev. Lynn Bujnak,
Vermont Conference Minister. "The area of the Richmond Congregational Church
UCC has been hit so badly that nobody has been able to get to the church to see
what's going on."
"Mercifully, our churches in Wilmington, West Dover and
Waterbury did not sustain damage, and those communities have been hugely affected
by the storm," said Bujnak. "That doesn't mean every single member of the
church hasn't been affected, but the church buildings haven't."
Bujnak said the same holds true for Conference churches in
Bennington, Brattleboro and West Brattleboro. "Two-thirds of the West
Brattleboro congregation has been displaced."
In addition, said Bujnak, Waitsfield UCC was another church
whose area was hard-hit by the storm.
Multiple communities remain without power, said Bujnak,
adding that two Conference staffers have not been able to get into the office
because their homes have been significantly damaged and their roads have been
washed away or blocked by fallen trees.
"One of the major challenges right now is that so many of
the roads were destroyed in rural areas, and it's extremely difficult to bring
aid to people there," said Bujnak.
Many UCC churches in the Conference are serving as "safe
havens" from the storm, she added.
Meanwhile, in New
Bedford, Mass. on Aug. 28, scores of elderly and disabled residents spent part
of their afternoon in safety at nearby Pilgrim UCC after a picture window and
siding from three separate floors blew out of the Olympia Tower complex.
from the Central Atlantic, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania Southeast Conferences reported
minor damages associated with roof shingles, peeling plaster and minor
At press time,
United Church News was unable to get through to the Massachusetts and
Connecticut Conference offices.