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Carnegie/Bridgeville

Bridgeville churches band together to aid flood victims

| Wednesday, June 27, 2018, 11:45 a.m.
Melissa Genovesi and son Hunter Grady, 3, choose cleaning supplies and toiletries from tables filled with donations for those affected by flooding from heavy rain June 20 at the First United Methodist Church in Bridgeville on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Genovesi, who lives off of Baldwin Street in Bridgeville, said they had to be rescued by boat on the evening of the flood.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Melissa Genovesi and son Hunter Grady, 3, choose cleaning supplies and toiletries from tables filled with donations for those affected by flooding from heavy rain June 20 at the First United Methodist Church in Bridgeville on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Genovesi, who lives off of Baldwin Street in Bridgeville, said they had to be rescued by boat on the evening of the flood.
Jay Irwin (back) and other volunteers help to remove drywall and wet wood from the McLaughlin Run Road home of Jacklyn Wagner on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Wagner's home, like many others in that area of Bridgeville, took on several feet of water during a June 20 storm. Irwin, who lives in a basement apartment on nearby Baldwin Street with his wife and son, said they lost most of their belongings. Still, he was moved to help his neighbors with their properties.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Jay Irwin (back) and other volunteers help to remove drywall and wet wood from the McLaughlin Run Road home of Jacklyn Wagner on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Wagner's home, like many others in that area of Bridgeville, took on several feet of water during a June 20 storm. Irwin, who lives in a basement apartment on nearby Baldwin Street with his wife and son, said they lost most of their belongings. Still, he was moved to help his neighbors with their properties.
Emma Hallam, 19, pauses outside the McLaughlin Run Road home of her fiance's grandmother, Jacklyn Wagner,  as volunteers continue cleanup efforts inside Tuesday, June 26, 2018, following flooding from a June 20 storm. Hallam said she's lived in the Bridgeville home for about eight months with her fiance and Wagner. Wagner said when Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004, she didn't let anyone in to clean her house, but welcomed the help this time so they didn't get sick, especially with Hallam being nearly 8 months pregnant.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Emma Hallam, 19, pauses outside the McLaughlin Run Road home of her fiance's grandmother, Jacklyn Wagner, as volunteers continue cleanup efforts inside Tuesday, June 26, 2018, following flooding from a June 20 storm. Hallam said she's lived in the Bridgeville home for about eight months with her fiance and Wagner. Wagner said when Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004, she didn't let anyone in to clean her house, but welcomed the help this time so they didn't get sick, especially with Hallam being nearly 8 months pregnant.

When her house flooded following Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Jacklyn Wagner said she didn't allow anyone inside to help her clean up. But in the aftermath of last week's flood, she's let several volunteer workers in.

Members of the United Methodist Committee's Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference Disaster Response Team (UMCOR) on June 26 worked to cut open the walls of her home on McLaughlin Run Road so that they might dry. The first floor took on three feet of water during the storm, she said.

"Getting the house clean so that it doesn't make us sick is an issue," she said.

Wagner's home and dozens of others throughout Bridgeville were battered last week by flood waters that ran as high as eight feet in some areas.

For her family and others, relief now is being funneled partly through the area's churches.

After the outpouring of support he was shown, Jay Irwin, a nearby Baldwin Street resident, with tears in his eyes said he was moved to help others in his community.

Despite losing almost all of his own belongings — aside from a few articles of clothing — after his basement apartment flooded, Irwin was at Wagner's home helping tear out drywall and wet wood alongside UMCOR volunteers on June 26.

"This made Ivan look like a sprinkle," he said of the storm.

Since last week, First United Methodist Church has acted as a "command center," says church member Cindy Womer. Members of the Red Cross have met with and referred service to residents from Bridgeville and surrounding municipalities in the church's fellowship hall.

The church also has acted as a drop-off zone for donations of cleaning supplies, pet food and canned goods that flood victims can pick up for free.

"It's pick what you need," Womer said. "It's not 'OK, you only get one."

Other churches have taken on different directives. Holy Child Catholic Church has accepted and distributed donations of furniture, and even helped shelter victims of the flood in its immediate aftermath.

UMCOR volunteers, some of whom came from as far off as Johnstown, are working under the direction of Crossroads Church leaders.

"The people that we help are typically the ones that are elderly, have medical problems," said UMCOR District Response Coordinator Dave Kissinger. "We go home at night, we're dead tired, but our heart feels good because we've helped somebody that otherwise wouldn't get helped."

Supplies can be donated at First United Methodist Church at 244 Station St. in Bridgeville between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Matthew Guerry is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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