Maugerville church copes with flood aftermath

The Rev. Canon Walter Williams exits Christ Church in Maugerville after surveying the flood damage. The high water mark is easy to see a foot or more above the foundation.  ~McKnight photos


By Gisele McKnight

Probably the best word to describe the situation at Christ Church in Maugerville, just downriver from Fredericton, is uncertain.

The record-setting flood of April-May 2018 inundated the small church on Route 105 at the Burton Bridge. The furnace and the organ were hit. How badly is the question.

The insurance adjuster will be on-scene this week to give this congregation of a dozen either good news — you’re covered — or bad news.

“We had everything piled up on tables,” said interim priest-in-charge Canon Walter Williams. “The fire chief called on Monday (two weeks ago) and said, ‘If you want to move anything, do it now.’”

items were gathered up and stored on the pews

As much as possible, items were gathered and stored on the pews after a call from the fire chief advising them to move things to higher ground.

It’s easy to see the high-water mark — on the trees, on the side of the building and on the altar inside. Everything inside and out — the grass, the large monument on the lawn, the pews — is coated in a layer of silt the receding waters left behind.

The small ramp at the main door is unstable. There are wet carpets outside the doors of the church and wet patches throughout the nave and sanctuary. The floor boards are lifting and wavy. No one can touch a thing without wearing gloves.

A layer of silt

A layer of silt covers everything that was underwater.

That has not stopped parishioner Pam Hoben, who has been busy with the carpet removal. Her recent restoration of the altar might have saved it. The altar has a high water mark, but it still looks solid.

Walter has seen floods in several parishes — Zealand, Woodstock — and now Maugerville. While he wasn’t here for the last flood of 2008, his parishioners remember.

“In 1973 it was higher, and that’s why they raised it and put a footing course under it,” he said. “They thought that would protect it.”

Then after the 2008 flood, they elevated the organ, but the water still reached the bottom four inches last week.

“In 2008, the last time, the water just got to the top of the foundation, if it even got that high,” said Walter. “This time is was much worse.”

Ten years ago, there wasn’t so much damage as there was dirt.

“They had a cleaning crew come in and the province paid,” said Walter. “The water came and went in 48 hours. We were 12 days under water this time.”

The good news: the oil tank stayed put and the plaster lathe walls might just need a good cleaning. But until they hear about insurance and see what is and is not salvageable, they are in limbo.

The floorboards

The floorboards were under water for 12 days and the damage is obvious.

The Parish of Oromocto and Maugerville is thought to be the oldest Anglican establishment in the province, dating back to just after the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783. Three buildings have stood on the site, with this one in place since Bishop John Medley consecrated it Jan. 8, 1857.

In other regions, damage was much less severe. The Rev. Michael Caines and a large team from the Parish of the Nerepis and St. John gathered on May 5 to sandbag the area around St. Paul’s Church in Oak Point, on the St. John River downstream from Maugerville. There was a lot of water in the basement, but the new furnace seems to have survived.

“As far as I know we just avoided permanent damage,” he said. “The furnace hasn’t been inspected yet but looks like it should be OK.”

Oak Point resident Glen Carson gestures toward the rising water levels at St. Paul's Anglican Church on Monday. (Julia Wright / CBC)

Oak Point resident Glen Carson gestures toward the rising water levels at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on May 7. (Julia Wright / CBC)

Now that the water has receded, the damage is obvious outside.

“Our grave yard was flooded and will need extensive clean up,” said Michael.

On the Kingston Peninsula, the flooding got very close to St. Paul’s, Whitehead, but did no damage. Others, however, were not so fortunate.

“Many were affected but the whole peninsula got involved, not just the parish,” said the Rev. Douglas Painter, priest and rector of the Parish of Kingston.

“Other than many on the peninsula who were flooded, our main issue was the anxiety surrounding whether we would be stranded on the peninsula,” he said.

“Two ferries were taken off and the Hampton and Bloomfield bridges were shut down. That meant the only way off was around to Norton or the Gondola Point ferries. Mostly the road situation was an inconvenience, but nothing compared to those who lost cottages and basements.”

St. Paul's in Whitehead Beach, Kingston Peninsula

St. Paul’s in Whitehead Beach, Kingston Peninsula, came close to flooding. (Submitted photo)


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