Marble Falls Church of Christ officials believe that rolling power blackouts Feb. 15 during the recent winter storm triggered the church building’s fire suppression system, leading to flooding on two floors that damaged offices, classrooms, and the fellowship hall.
“Water came from the upstairs through the attic (to the) downstairs,” said Preaching Minister Greg Neill.
Adding to the mess was a broken water line on the first floor, which left 2-8 inches of water in 13 classrooms, four offices, and the community room. The community room is mostly for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, which were moved to an upstairs room while repairs are done.
Neill said the church was able to save most of its furniture and computers. Staff is waiting on removed cabinets to dry before determining which can be saved and reinstalled.
On Feb. 17, volunteers and Burdett Hill Country Homes crews, led by owner and church member Dan Burdett, removed floors, walls, and 100 chairs damaged by the water.
“Dan said, ‘Let’s go ahead and take out the carpet and sheetrock,’” Neill said. “We had one thousand hours of volunteer service. Our community came out and fed us. It was a community coming together. By (the afternoon of Feb. 18), most everything was out.”
Church elder Mark Bray was the first person alerted that the church’s fire alarm was going off. He notified Neill, who called Burdett, and all three arrived at the church within a half-hour of the alarm sounding.
When they entered one of the church offices, water flowed out.
“We’re not sure how long the water had been running,” Neill said.
An insurance adjustor was scheduled to tour the building, and Neill is bracing for an estimated cost of $600,000 in damages, which church leaders believe insurance will cover.
The projected timeline for repairs is eight months, he added.
The atrium, auditorium, and half of the fellowship hall, including the kitchen, located on the second floor weren’t damaged.
“We still got to worship and meet on Sunday (Feb. 21),” the minister said. “None of our main technology got damaged. Our servers and internet portals are still working.”
Many of the Sunday School and Wednesday night classes are already meeting in homes because of the pandemic, and other churches have offered the use of their facilities.
As for why this happened, Neill said he doesn’t “deal with why questions.”
“I deal with how and who. I go back to doxology: I stop and I praise God in all things. Really, when I look back at this as hectic and devastating, what was great was how people responded and helped. It brought people from different theologies together. In First Thessalonians 5, Paul tells us to rejoice in all things and give thanks. Sunday was a day of praise and not mourning and giving God praise. When you ask why, even if you know the answers, they won’t satisfy you.”