June 22, 2013
Dear friends in the broader United Church and beyond,
We are most grateful to all who have contacted us regarding the situation in High River and have asked about the status of High River United Church. The last three days have been overwhelming for the whole community, as everyone has been evacuated from their homes and are waiting to return. The water came in so fast and furiously that people had little notice to prepare for leaving their homes. No one could have ever predicted what happened.
The church building is devastated. Water poured in from both front and back as well as through the floor boards. The sandbagging we did made absolutely no difference. In the end, there was 2 1/2 to 3 feet of water flowing through the whole church. We had an opportunity to get computers, hand bells, and many important documents to higher and safer levels, but the devastation in the church is overwhelming. It will be a long time before we will be back in the building. The challenge will be the fact that insurance will not cover this because it was flood water that damaged the building. And though the congregation has worked with great diligence and energy, we have not yet finished paying the mortgage off from our rebuild 5 years ago.
However, that is just the start. Most of High River was under water. No one has ever seen anything like this. Even areas of town thought safe from flooding were struck. Many, many of our congregational members will have damage to some extent in their houses and some will have lost their homes. Our own home had 4-5 feet of water in the basement when we left.
So many have been so gracious to all of us who have been evacuated. Friends, family and strangers have taken us into their homes, and it won't be for just a few days. It will take weeks and months to re-build our community. We also think of all the other devastated communities hit by the flooding: Canmore, Black Diamond-Turner Valley and Calgary.
Every time we start feeling overwhelmed, we say to ourselves the words of Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear I am with you; do not be afraid for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you. I will hold you up with my strong arms.” We really need to know those strong arms of God through you, the people of God in the coming days.
What can you do?
Pray for all the people, communities and churches affected by the flooding.
Donate through the United Church of Canada website to the “Alberta Floods” fund to help all communities effected by the flooding.
Donate directly to High River United through CanadaHelps.org (search for: High River United Church)
Keep updated on our situation by checking out our High River United Church Facebook page.
High River United Church has committed to being a community of help, home and hope in the heart of High River. That commitment to our community and to God's mission will continue
despite this devastation with your help and support.
Rev. Susan Lukey and Rev. David Robertson