FOLEY – On a regular day, Foley Baptist Church sits a mile west of the Mississippi River. Last June, when the rains fell and the waters rose, it wasn’t just near the Mississippi. It was in the Mississippi.
The muddy waters crossed the field that normally separated the town from the river’s banks, ultimately depositing eight inches of filthy, stagnant water in the church. And even then the people of Foley couldn’t do anything but wait for the waters to recede.
“We couldn’t even get back into the church to do anything for about a month,” said Viola Bromwich, a member of church.
By the time they were able to get back in to the building, mold had bloomed all over the place and there wasn’t much of the interior left to salvage. They had to gut the building down to the flooring. One floor joist was on its last leg before the flooding, so those had to be replaced entirely. Luckily, the church members moved pews and other items to higher ground when they heard the flood was coming.
“We have pictures of the open floor area in the sanctuary and you can see the floor joist underneath,” she said. “That was just devastating.”
Their facilities date back to 1880 and were rebuilt decades ago after a fire. But a church is not a physical building. It takes more than fire or than 8 inches of the muddy Mississippi to discourage the people of God. The recovery process was slow, but steady. The church is without a permanent pastor at the moment, but they appointed a committee and set about making plans.
Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief crews showed up, tearing out the floor and drywall, treating the mold and making sure things were nice and clean before the rebuild began.
“It was phenomenal,” Bromwich said.
Other area churches sent works to help with the rebuild, and a trucking company donated a trailer to help store equipment during until construction was over. Construction companies gave the church heavy discounts and “went above and beyond what they should be doing to help us finish things,” she said.
Five months later, Nov. 2, of last year the congregation was finally able to meet in their home again. On Feb. 23 from 2 to 4 p.m., the people of Foley Baptist Church are hosting an open house and reunion of sorts for all those who helped them recover from the flood.
“We’re wanting to say thank you to the Lord and to all those who helped and for the blessings we’ve been given.” ν