Massive Flood Cleanup At 160-Year-Old Picton Church - Hope 103.2

Massive Flood Cleanup At 160-Year-Old Picton Church

A church pew resting metres up in the air, wedged between a wall and a baptismal, shows just how high the floodwaters came at St Mark’s Church in Picton.

By Clare BruceThursday 9 Jun 2016Hope BreakfastNewsReading Time: 3 minutes

Listen: Picton Anglican Church minister Ben Boardman chats to Hope 103.2’s Dwayne and Laura.

A church pew resting metres up in the air, wedged between a wall and a baptismal, shows just how high the floodwaters came at historic St Mark’s Church in Picton over the weekend.

Minister Ben Boardman told Hope 103.2 that the 1850s-built church was inundated by some of the deepest of the flood waters that swept through the town.

“As I walked in on Monday morning, what I found was just absolutely incredible,” he said. “If you were standing in the church during the floodwaters, the water would’ve been above your head. The watermark was at least two metres high, and basically every piece of furniture within the church, the pews and the communion table and the lectern, had basically floated up two metres high and then as the water subsided, floated back down.

“[There was] mud an inch thick all over the floor and furniture strewn everywhere, and mostly destroyed. It was phenomenal to see the destruction. In the cemetery outside many of the gravestones have been pushed over or cracked or broken.”

Church Pews

Above: A jumble of church pews after the weekend’s floods.

Picton Shows Its Community Spirit

Mr Boardman said people had come from all corners of the community offering to help with the cleanup after the floodwaters wreaked havoc on homes, schools, shops and historic buildings.

Around 30 volunteers spent Monday cleaning out St Marks church, while a local crane hire company helped retrieve their kids ministry van off the river bank, and an electrical business helped to restore some power.

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“There’ve been people come in at just the right moment to bring the resource we need or the help we need, to solve a particular issue,” Mr Boardman said. “It’s been fantastic to see the community spirit and everyone getting in to help.”

Insurance contractors will now takeover to do a detailed church restoration.

“We are in a blessed situation where our insurers are covering us for the damage,” Mr Boardman said.

Above: A hopeful Facebook post after the church cleanup.

Mr Boardman added that the town was starting to look more normal.

“It’s certainly not over by any measure, but rubbish has been cleared away and people are starting to think a bit more medium-term as different relief funds build up money for some of those residents and businesses to apply to.”

Service Of Reflection And Prayer

The people of Picton Church

Above: The people of Picton Church will welcome the community to a special service on Sunday

While St Marks Church building won’t be useable for months to come, the church community will hold a ‘Service of Reflection, Prayer and Hope’ at Wollondilly Shire Hall in Picton at 9.30 this Sunday, June 12. Mr Boardman said it’s a chance for the community to join the church to reflect on what has happened, pray, and “be reminded of the hope and security we can have in God …in the midst of the ups and downs of life”.

Any funds given to the church offering that day will go directly into the Mayoral Relief Fund to help the residents and businesses in Picton that have suffered loss.

How To Help With The Flood Cleanup

A Wollondilly Shire councillor and shop owner Michael Banasik told the Daily Telegraph he expected the cleanup in Picton to take a month. St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School principal Dan O’Brien told the newspaper that the school would likely be closed for the rest of the term and students relocated, until the flood damage was repaired.

Those who wish to help  with cleanup efforts are being asked to register as a volunteer with Wollondilly Shire Council in Picton or the Picton Lions Club, while donations can be made to the Wollondilly Mayoral Relief Fund.