PA cleans up - again

The streets of Yardley are lined with piles of dried mud so high they look like plowed snow.

BY HEATHER MOYER | YARDLEY, Pa. | April 15, 2005

"People with minimal insurance have much worse damage this time."

—Rev. Sharon Taylor

The streets of Yardley are lined with piles of dried mud so high they look like plowed snow.

On a bright morning, construction workers and residents were ripping out waterlogged drywall and carpet. Others were removing mud-encrusted siding. Last week’s Delaware River flooding hit the community hard, and residents are working quickly to clean up the worst of the mess.

All this work is a sad repeat of six months ago, when the community was deluged by rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan. This time, the flooding was worse.

Yardley churches are getting involved in the cleanup - just as they did in September.  The Rev. Sharon Taylor, who pastors the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, said both her current church and her former church are sending in volunteers.

“We’re working with one or two families at a time,” said Taylor, adding that she is working with regional Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) contacts to get funding for affected families.

Taylor expects more families to come forward for assistance as church volunteers move further into one of the hardest hit neighborhoods. Right now they have been locating families in need via congregational word of mouth and through the American Red Cross.

“I think more people in need are going to show themselves as time passes. People with minimal insurance have much worse damage this time.”

Many of the affected families have lived in Yardley for years and don’t have the funds to relocate or do all the repair work on their own.

The psychological and emotional toll on the families is another issue on which Taylor said she and LDR will focus. “Nobody thought this would happen again,” she explained. “We were told that September’s flood was a 50-year flood.”

Taylor and LDR have also been assisting some of the families with utility payments and dumpster fees, but she noted that more funds will be needed. “Once you see the damage, you know how important it is to get in there and help.”

Just across town at the Yardley United Methodist Church (YUMC), volunteers have also been active in the affected neighborhoods. More than 20 volunteers have pitched in to help remove mud and damaged property from homes in the past week. “We’ve also washed walls and pumped water out of basements,” said Michael Gordon, a YUMC member who’s been helping recruit volunteers. 

YUMC also helped with flood recovery last September, and this time the church is again working closely with the Red Cross to find families in need. Gordon agreed that the psychological toll is major.

“One of our families had first floor damage, and they had just gone through this all in September,” explained Gordon. “The father had done most of the repair work himself – so it’s disheartening to do all that work and have it devastated again.”

Both Taylor’s church and YUMC had church members with damage as well.

The next step for the churches is their continued work with the Red Cross on identifying families in need, but not everything is spelled out just yet.

“We haven’t quite decided what’s next,” said Ginny Lavanish, a YUMC lay leader who’s helping spearhead the YUMC recovery effort. 

“We do know that there will be more work days – both organized and impromptu. Hopefully people and other groups will adopt families and see them through, but we’re still working on it.

“We will continue to define people who don’t have any support, though.”

Lavanish noted that her church had made contact with their Methodist conference’s disaster response coordinator for more assistance.

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