OLIVE BRANCH – Winter is finally coming to an end in 2018. However, the incredibly frigid temperatures have been destructive. Longview Heights Baptist Church is in the midst of a full sanctuary renovation after falling victim to the freezing January temperatures.
“The leak started on the night of Jan. 17,” said Alan Wilson, Longview’s campus administrator. “It was the night that we had the minus four wind chill factor. We found it (the damage) on the morning of Jan. 18.”
The word “leak” doesn’t fully describe the situation the church staff uncovered that morning. Wilson said a one-inch pipe had frozen, and the expansion of the ice had blown off a cap that was soldered to the end of the pipe.
“We had a one-inch water main that was gushing water out at that point,” he said. Wilson said the water continued to flow overnight until a church staff member arrived on campus the next day.
“Debbie Greer, our music ministry associate, came in Thursday morning and saw that the whole hallway was flooded, and her office was flooded,” he said. “That was our first indication that we had problems.”
After uncovering the problem, Greer checked the sanctuary and discovered that the damage was much larger than just the offices. There was approximately one inch of water sitting on top of the carpet in the hallways, classrooms, and offices. As the water continued to flow overnight, it moved down the hallway and down a set of stairs that led into to worship center.
“It flooded our worship center to where it was about six and a half to seven inches deep at the bottom of our worship center, which is lower than the hallway by several feet,” Wilson said. The water spread down the hallway, but began to pool in the worship center, the lowest point in the building.
The water damaged the carpet and walls in the classrooms, hallways, offices, and the worship center. Longview’s worship minister, Blake Krumalis, described the additional damage.
“We had a portable sound mixer that had to be replaced,” he said. “In the sanctuary, we had to get some floor pockets replaced.”
Krumalis said the floor pockets were boxes in the ground that housed power outlets and audio hookups that connected to the sound system. Krumalis’ office was among the offices damaged by the flood.
Krumalis and his assistant temporarily moved their offices to the office suite in a separate building. However, they decided to keep their offices there permanently. The old offices will be converted to classrooms during the building’s restoration.
Longview is now over a month into the restoration process. “Our insurance agent has a special relationship with Service Master,” Wilson said. “It took them (Service Master) over nine hours to get all of the water out. We are working with TDL contractors. They are working feverishly to get all of the repairs done.
“When Service Master cleaned out, they had to cut one foot of wall along the affected area. They removed over one mile of sheetrock. TDL Contractors have been replacing that sheetrock. They will also be taking out the old carpet and putting in new carpet.”
The church will be replacing over 45,000 square feet of carpet throughout the worship center. The building’s restoration is scheduled to be completed around the middle of April.
“We had to go from one worship in our sanctuary to having two worship services every Sunday in our fellowship hall,” Wilson said. “We did have cancel one DeSoto County Schools event.”
According the Krumalis, adjustments to the Sunday morning worship schedule has caused minimal issues. “We had to move almost all of our worship equipment off the stage and into the fellowship hall,” he said.
“Instead of one morning service at 10:30 a.m., we’re doing two morning services. One is at 8 a.m. and one at 10:30 a.m. with Sunday School in between. We’ve been running about 200-250 people in the first service and somewhere around 700 people or so in the second service. I don’t feel like it (the flood) has really affected our attendance.”
Longview Heights Baptist Church is dedicated to working through the building repairs with minimal issues. Wilson and Krumalis both said they were excited to see the worship center after the installation of new carpet and freshly painted walls.
If the restoration continues as planned and is completed by the mid-April deadline, Longview Heights Baptist Church’s members and staff will enjoy a new worship center for years to follow.