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Virginia Church Ravaged by Flooding

Raven Assembly of God pastor believes damages will total $200,000.

Raven Assembly of God expects to meet in the gymnasium of its Family Life Center for the next three months after southwestern Virginia's Clinch River overflowed its banks March 5 and flooded the church in the community of 2,270 residents.

Still, Pastor Marshall Frasier said the congregation's response to the disaster has marked its finest hour.

"The people have really stepped up," says Frasier, pastor for just six weeks before the recent flooding left up to a foot of water in Raven AG's building. "They've brought food for people working on cleanup and done whatever they can to help. Several other pastors have shown up ready to work."

While damages are still being assessed, the pastor estimates repairs will total at least $200,000. Although insurance will cover $120,000 for cleanup operations, Raven AG is waiting for bids on restoration work. It isn't clear how much the church will have to pay for deductibles and non-covered expenses.

Frasier says the worst damage occurred in the 5,000-square-foot sanctuary, which sees an average of 150 worshippers on a Sunday. This is the fifth time in the building's 51-year-history the church has had to deal with high water.

One business owned by a church member had a waterlogged basement, while another family lost nearly all its possessions after water invaded their home. Members donated $1,500, clothing and other supplies to help that family. Another church gave them $200.

Raven AG appears to be the only church in the area affected by the high water.

Ironically, Frasier, his wife and their eight children (ages 1 to 15) were among those affected. The floodwater left a stench that permeated the nearby parsonage, forcing the family to temporarily relocate.

Even that development had a good side.

"We have friends who said, 'Come stay at our place' so we wouldn't have to be engulfed by the smell," the pastor says. "That's one thing that is great about being part of a church family."

Kenneth C. Walker

Kenneth C. Walker is a freelance writer, co-author, and book editor from Huntington, West Virginia. He has more than 4,500 article bylines and has written, edited, or contributed to more than 90 books.