Hurricane Irene blew through the Northeast leaving a wake of destruction that individuals, families and officials are still trying to assess. In our diocese, from what we have learned so far, two churches have been significantly affected. St. Andrew’s in Newark had a tree limb pierce the roof of the sanctuary. The Church Insurance Company and Jim Caputo, our property manager, have been on the scene and have reported that no structural damage has occurred. On Sunday afternoon, St. Stephen’s, Millburn had a veritable river on the street in front of the church. At one point the parish hall was inundated with four feet of water; and the rectory -- which had been completely refurbished through the expert sweat equity of dozens of parishioners in anticipation of the arrival of their new rector, suffered thousands of dollars of water damage. Insurance-ordered remediation efforts are already underway.
There have been other reports of water in church basements, and in some rectories, but for the most part our church buildings have been spared lasting damage.
Not so with many people in the diocese -- and beyond, who are waiting for power to be restored, safe water to drink or damage to be repaired.
The storm has passed -- and we give thanks for that. Its ferocity was less than expected, but its legacy will long be remembered. The storms of life -- whether they carry the name of Irene or are anonymous cloudbursts that erupt in the soul, are not what we want but are what we can expect. Other storms will come. And through it all we can give thanks for the intangible but life-giving elements that help us weather the storms -- the support and solidarity of one another, and the abiding gift of God’s undying presence.