<bt>Less than a month before the official dedication of their new headquarters, Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church has suffered serious losses to several of its community ministries due to flooding in the lower level of its building, 8220 Russell Road, in Lee District.
"Saturday morning I received a phone call from Ed Coan, a food ministry volunteer who was delivering food from the Kingstowne Giant Food Store. He told me the lower level was under an inch of water," said Rising Hope minister Rev. Keary Kincannon.
Kincannon attributed the flooding to the torrential rains last weekend saturating the ground and causing water to seep through the cinder block foundation walls. "With the help of several of our members we were able to get rid of the water by about 5:30 p.m. by using three wet vacs," he said.
HOWEVER, WHEN KINCANNON returned with an electric pump at approximately 8:30 p.m. Saturday night he found the floor again under two inches of water. Although the pump was left on over night, water continued to seep in and had accumulated to nearly three inches by the start of Sunday morning services, according to Kincannon.
A second use of wet vacs by parishioners again removed the water. But, it reappeared on Monday morning again at a depth of approximately three inches.
"This just makes you want to cry. We just got this new building and spent a lot of money on it. Now we are splashing around trying to continue our community ministries to help the people along the Route 1 corridor," said Sue Stewart, a Rising Hope board member
"Volunteers have been recruited to carry everything salvageable to the upper floor until we can get this problem solved," Kincannon said.
This has caused the curtailment of many of the church's community ministries such as the "Clothes Closet" and "Birthday Closet." Lorraine Stackhouse, a daily "Clothes Closet" volunteer described the conditions as a "total mess."
"Our two rooms really got hit hard. All the clothes are wet and will probably have to be destroyed. And, many of the boxes holding donated new items are totally wet and those clothes are probably ruined," Stackhouse said.
Two other services particularly hard hit were the "Drop-in Center," which provides phones and computers for community use and the food ministry. The former is closed temporarily while the latter is struggling to determine "if and where the food can be moved to continue the program's operation. More than 350 people along the Route 1 corridor depend on Rising Hope's food ministry daily.
TO MAKE MATTER WORSE, Kincannon has been informed by the church's insurance company the damage and loss will not be covered. "This is a serious financial set back from which we do not know how we will recover unless our supporters can help us," Kincannon said.
"I am estimating the damage will undoubtedly be tens of thousands of dollars to cover both the loss and make repairs to insure this does not happen again," he said. "We don't know what that's going to take."
Presently, the actual cause of seepage has not been pinpointed. However, it was discovered that a sump pump in a far corner of the basement, disconnected during renovations, was not reconnected, according to Kincannon. The church does not carry flood insurance because it is not in a flood plain and is located on relatively high ground.
Worship services and spiritual ministries will continue. It is the community outreach ministry that has been temporarily crippled. Anyone wishing to contribute to the recovery should contact Rev. Keary Kincannon at 703-360-1976.