• Last modified 573 days ago (Dec. 28, 2022)


Disaster strikes church again

Staff writer

Members of Hillsboro’s Mennonite Brethren Church found water as much as five inches deep Saturday morning after an overnight rupture of water pipes.

During that night, the temperature plunged to 4 degrees below zero.

The church is dealing with its second disaster in 18 years. In 2004, the congregation’s historic first building burned to the ground.

Ron Duerksen, who leads the church men’s ministry, said the pipes burst between 7 p.m. Friday, when he left the building, and 9 a.m. Saturday.

Apparently, the leak was in the fire suppression system.

“I happened to be the first one there, just by error, and I turned the regular water line off, and it did not stop,” Duerksen said.

Duerksen also was around 18 years ago for the previous disaster that displaced the congregation.

“I was there and I actually watched it burn,” he said. “It was pretty unreal.”

Duerksen hopes the restoration of the church will take less time than it did in 2004.

“We had to put a whole building up,” he said.

This week, professional disaster restoration crews are working to remove water and dry out the building.

Lead pastor Jeremy Matlock said the entire building took water throughout, with some areas getting as little as one inch and a sunken stage taking on five inches of water.

It’s too early to know how long the congregation will be displaced, both men said.

Matlock said the best estimate — if the walls don’t have mold and mildew problems after water and carpet are removed — is two months.

“I think it could be three or four,” he said.

The church, which sees a typical Sunday attendance of 350 people, will meet at Tabor College in the short term. A longer agreement to use Tabor might be worked out, Matlock said.

Still to be figured out is what arrangements will be made for Kids Connection, the largest child care facility in the county.

“That’s one of the high priorities right now,” Matlock said.

Kids Connection is maxed out on the number of children it can accept, and getting an emergency permit for a different location is not a fast process, he said.

Still, he knows what a hardship it would be for parents to lose day-care, and how important it is to let parents get on with life as usual.

A video of a walk-through of the Mennonite Brethren Church after the flood may be seen here:

Mennonite Brethren Church wasn’t the only place where water leaked during the bitterly cold weekend.

At 6:26 p.m. Friday, Hillsboro fire chief Ben Steketee responded to Hillsboro Community Hospital after a water main broke, setting off alarms and spewing water in the hospital’s emergency room.

At 9:11 a.m. Saturday, Marion fire chief Chris Killough disabled a fire suppression system that sounded an alarm at Marion Assisted Living after a water pipe burst.

At 3:26 p.m. Saturday, a fire alarm at Tabor College townhouses was determined by Hillsboro firefighters to have been caused by a frozen pipe that burst.

A second alarm at the Tabor men’s quad soon afterward was determined to have been set off by steam from a broken hot water pipe.

Matlock said 10 water pipes burst at Tabor over the weekend.

At 7:01 a.m. Sunday, another fire alarm related to water flow at Marion Assisted Living was checked by Marion’s chief.

At 9:13 a.m. Sunday, a third alarm at Marion Assisted Living was checked. Crews were reported to be working on the center’s fire suppression system.

At 11:51 a.m. Sunday, Florence firefighters helped lift an uninjured 79-year-old woman who fell near a broken water line in a back yard in the 100 block of W. 4th St. She declined to be taken to a hospital by Marion ambulance.

Last modified Dec. 28, 2022