ELKVIEW, W.Va. — A Kanawha County church, built in the 1870s, along with one of the oldest Christian schools in West Virginia has no choice but to rebuild after high waters completely ruined the facility.
Volunteers were at the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Elkview Tuesday to clean up the property and offer donations to the church and members of the community.
The floors were torn up and the walls stripped. Pews were out in the parking lot along with school chairs, desks, doors, bibles and more. Thursday’s storms resulted in 7-9 feet of water in some areas of the building, according to Reggan Jett, assistant pastor at Mt. Pleasant.
“Eight feet got in our Christian school/gymnasium, ruined everything in there including a brand new gym floor,” Jett said. “We had 50 inches in our auditorium which is being completely gutted — ruined and all.”
The church has stood on the Elkview property for 41 years. Jett said the devastation is being felt within the entire community, but specifically from those who built the church years ago.
“To see all of this generation ahead of us that volunteered and slaved as we are today to give us these assets, it’s extremely heartbreaking to watch them experience this loss,” he said.
The congregation will move into a gymnasium behind the damaged structure for at least a year, Jett said. The church’s school students will have class there and inside a trailer that sits right next to the gym.
Cleanup will extend for weeks. Jett said eventually they’ll have to replace all the damaged items.
“Obviously that’s when the financial need comes,” he said. “That’s where we’re going to be in a few weeks.”
Jett said every little bit helps. The church set up a website to receive donations for anyone who wants to contribute to the rebuilding process. To donate, visit www.helpmpbc.com. All proceeds will go directly to the church.
A drop off site was set up in the church’s parking lot for anyone willing to donate items to flood victims. Hearts with Hands, an organization out of Ashville, Ky., was on hand Tuesday. Donations can also be made at www.heartswithhands.org or by phone at 1-800-HELP-HWH.
“This is relief supplies from toilet paper, to paper towels, to paper goods, to food boxes, water, cleaning supplies, all those hygiene kits — things like that that folks need when they lost everything they have,” said Greg Lentz, president of Hearts with Hands.
Jett said it was important to still remain involved in the community even though their focus has shifted to cleaning up the property.
“Our walls may be broken, but we’re still the church and we’re commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves and we’re commanded to give and show compassion, so we’re still providing to disaster relief,” he said.