Water line breaks cause extensive damage to Salvation Army

EAST LIVERPOOL-Baptized in the harsh waters of a broken sprinkler system in January, the Salvation Army East Liverpool Corps finds itself struggling to emerge from the damage whole and well.

The water line breaks on Jan. 10 dumped more than 74,000 gallons of water throughout the three-story building, causing extensive damage to the lower level dining hall, kitchen, gymnasium, boiler room and bathrooms, Maj. Douglas McGuire said. Flooding also reached the elevator, sanctuary, offices, storage areas, classrooms and a carpeted activity room.

McGuire, who leads the East Liverpool Corps with his wife, Maj. Stella McGuire, said the damage has been estimated at $60,000, not counting the cost of removing the water in the days immediately after the flood.

Corps leaders believe the breaks were caused by the freezing, then thawing, of water lines following sub-zero temperatures earlier that week. McGuire said the freezing was the result of a heating system breakdown, repairs of which have cost about $9,000.

“I’m trying to do as much preventive maintenance as I can,” McGuire said, “so certain things don’t happen again.”

Although insurance will cover much of the damage, the East Liverpool Corps may be left holding the bag for some of the repairs. Six weeks after the flooding, the church, known for its social conscience and outreach to the poor, finds itself in the unusual position of having to ask for help.

“The Salvation Army operates in less-than-perfect conditions when disaster strikes, and, through the grace of God, we will overcome,” McGuire said.

The flooding not only did structural damage but also ruined foodstuffs, toys, musical instruments and other donated items that were in storage, he said. Among the damaged instruments were three acoustic guitars, a drum set and some brass instruments.

Programs and 12-step meetings, but not Sunday worship services, also were affected by the waters. McGuire said the Salvation Army, located at 413 E. Fourth St., has had to curtail some of its free clothing distribution and delay the startup of some new programs in the past month.

“For awhile, we had to do everything in the lobby and in the sanctuary,” he said. “It kind of hindered the staff-hampered what you want to do with the programs. We just tried to continue to function with what we had. That’s all we could do.”

In the days following the flood, staff members put everything on tables in the gymnasium and sorted through what was still usable, McGuire said. Among the items saved were most of the canned goods, he said.

“We lost some perishable food, like cake mixes,” he said.

Structural repairs are ongoing and extensive-and about 80 percent done, McGuire said. Brad’s Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning has been busy repainting walls, cleaning carpets, and stripping and rewaxing floors. Many of the ceiling tiles in the lower level have been replaced.

The elevator still needs a new floor, McGuire said, and the control panel already has been replaced.

Through it all, the Salvation Army is “still here and still serving our community,” he said.

McGuire said the biggest way the public can help is through monetary gifts-to help cover the cost of repairs, replace damaged items and ensure the continuation of regular programs, McGuire said.

Donations may be made online at www.SalvationArmyOhio.org, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY, or by writing a check.

“I think the Lord’s going to take care of us,” McGuire said. “We’re going to be all right.”