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Storm Floods Church's First Floor

Packanack Community Church receives several inches of water on its first floor Wednesday night.

The first floor of was covered in several inches of water Wednesday night.

Water flowed down Kathleen Court and through the church's parking lot. It flowed into the church through a window, forcing an air conditioner out of the window, and started filling up one of the offices.

The pressure blew the office door open, allowing the water to flow throughout the church's bottom floor.

Rev. Karyn Ratcliff heard about what was happening and rushed to the church.

"It could have been a lot worse," Ratcliffe said. "Thank goodness it wasn't." Ratcliffe is the chairwoman of Wayne VOAD, a disaster recovery and assistance organization .

Water flowed into every room on the floor, but it only rose up a few inches in some places. There was only a few inches of water in Ratcliffe's office but there was more in others.

The room the water entered the building through filled up with several feet of water, ruining a new multipurpose copier and printer the church just bought worth thousands of dollars.

Choir robes located in one room got wet, but not ruined. All the rugs on the floor had to be removed and torn out. The first few inches of sheet rock throughout the floor was wet.

The church recently regraded part of its parking lot to channel water away from the building. The town also installed more storm drains near the building and a catch basin to allow more water to flow out of the property but it wasn't enough to alleviate the amount of water that fell Wednesday night.

Water also , closing roadways and bringing traffic to a near stand-still on Valley Road.

Lou Peters, chairman of the church's board of trustees, said that the nearby storm drains were backed up with sticks, leaves, and other debris and seemed unable to handle the sudden amount of water that flowed into the drainage system. 

"The sheetrock is ruined, I don't know what we're going to do," Peters said.

Water also made it way into the Wayne Interfaith Network's food pantry. There were some bags of food on the floor that were ruined but most of the food was on elevated shelves and dry.

The shelves were recently installed after fire inspectors told personnel the bags of food sitting on the floor and nearby hallway could have been a fire hazard.

A group of volunteers responded immediately and began drying out the church. They mopped floors, plugged in fans and dehumidifiers, and rolled their sleeves up to dispose of waterlogged supplies. 

"We had so many people come down to help, it was amazing," Ratcliffe said. "It's so nice to know that we're not alone."

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Karyn Ratcliffe August 17, 2012 at 03:36 PM
The township has arranged for the huge pile of flood debris to be picked up at 12:30pm TODAY. We need volunteers immediately to carry everything out to the curb. If you are able, please come and help. Thank you!!

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