(Manville, NJ, U.S.A.) At the end of August and the beginning of September 2021, Hurricane “Ida” raged over the east coast of the USA, causing great damage in New Jersey. Once again a large area of the Redemptorist parish in Manville was severely flooded, and one of our churches was also affected. The residents, together with their pastors, are not giving up and are asking for prayerful support.
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On entering Manville where the Polish Redemptorists are working, you will see a sign that reads “Manville – a new beginning”. Indeed, once again in Manville, residents of the flooded areas are forced to a fresh start. But let us start from the beginning.
On September 1, 2021, a tropical storm “Ida” had been raging over the region for several hours. Warnings of possible local flooding came regularly urging people to stay dry and safe. Police and fire engines blocked roads where water had started to collect and rescued people from homes that were taking on water.
At one o’clock in the morning the flood sirens sounded. The extent of the tragedy could only be assessed in the light of the next day. After 10 inches (25.4 cm – ed) of rain the water level in the nearby Raritan and Millstone rivers, where the town of Manville is located, rose by 27.4 feet (over 8 meters – ed.) resulted in more than 50% of the town being found under water, according to the National Weather Service.
Once again, the Christ the King Church which is a part of Christ the Redeemer Parish (CTR), was severely flooded like in previous years: in 1955, 1971, 1999, 2007, 2010, 2011. This year flood was by no means the biggest recorded flood ever that ruined Manville and surrounding townships. Unfortunately, although much higher up and a few blocks away, Christ the King School was also affected this time. On Saturday, September 4, once the buildings where pump out and safe more than 20 people (volunteers from the Polish School and parishioners) came to help with the cleanup both the church and the school.
Fortunately, Sacred Heart church, that also belongs to CTR Parish and served during pandemic as a sole worship site sits on the higher grounds. Only the church auditorium got no residual damage from some backup water that covered the floor.
The Christ the Redeemer Parish joined in the relief effort by offering, lodging, food, cleaning supplies, cloths, financial resources, assisted in this work by the diocesan Catholic Charities and surrounding parishes and local organizations.
On Labor Day (Monday, September 6) teams of parishioners and volunteers spent several hours of their holiday providing cleaning services to flooded families who requested help. For the last several days, the Parish Caritas had been preparing hot food and delivering hot meals to many flood victims as well as those who were helping them.
One day later, on September 7th President USA Joe Biden visited the town, to assess the damage promising much needed help. He has seen streets filled with piles of what used to be valuable possession that in no time turned into garbage. People being exhausted and worried about their future, with no home, no place to sleep. Many of them were flooded before. Many just bought their houses fleeing after pandemic from New York. Their homes, cars, everything that they rely on was destroyed. More than 30 houses lost their foundations, that collapsed under great water pressure. Their future is uncertain. Ahead of them is a long process of rebuilding, fighting with insurance to be reimbursed for their losses. Many houses will be demolished and turned into green acres after being bought out by FEMA. But for now, tucks loaded with flood garbage are leaving Manville as one by one streets are being cleaned.
Meanwhile, the CTR Parish will continue to pray and help bringing bags of food and cloths as long as the assistance will be need it learning how to help better when the next time the flood will accrue. Please pray that the current experience will not destroy faith in God and human goodness.
Fr. Stanislaw Slaby, CSsR, Pastor, Manville, NJ, USA