Runnemede church condemned due to storm damage

July 30, 2013 2:56:44 PM PDT
A sanctuary for residents in Runnemede for more than a century suffered so much damage during Sunday's storms that officials have temporarily condemned it.

Pastor Ed Muska inspected the damage to the basement of Mount Calvary Union Church on the 100 block of East Clements Bridge Road in Runnemede Tuesday.

Torrential rain Sunday night sent a wall of water through the basement of the tiny, century-old church, which has about 40 members.

"Just swept in, taking the foundation wall basically from the bottom in. Just swept it in and took the wall with it and then just everything, the dirt and the water, rushed in," Muska said.

Until the engineering reports are reviewed, the borough has told church members to stay out of the building.

Almost three feet of flooding in the basement ruined water heaters, an oven and refrigerator, and the heating and cooling system.

"It's sickening, it really is. It makes me sick to my stomach. This is my second home. My church family," church member Anne Marie Benish said.

Next door neighbor Joanne Shepherd heard the foundation collapse.

"I looked out the side and everything's gone there. It was terrible," Joanne Shepherd said.

"When it rains hard like it has several times this year, it comes down the street like a river," Muska said.

Residents along East Clements Bridge Road, which is also State Highway 41, complain that flooding has been a problem for years.

Ed Shepherd, Joanne's husband, says on a rainy day he calls the land around his house and the church "Lake Amanda."

"It fills up from all that coming down and we named it; I named the lake after my daughter," Ed Shepherd said.

The pastor is trying to be positive.

"The church is not the building. The church is the people and so we're intact, though the building might not be," Muska said.

Until all of this is straightened out, the borough has offered Mount Calvary Union the use of the Senior Center so they can temporarily have Sunday services there.


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