Type to search

Congregation Disaster Relief Loan

From Floodwaters to Faith: St. Paul’s Journey of Resilience

Pastor Evan Scamman moves musical equipment to table as flood waters rise in St. Paul Lutheran's fellowship hall.

When Hurricane Ida struck Greenwich, Conn., it left a trail of destruction in its wake. But it also revealed something extraordinary—the unyielding spirit of the St. Paul Lutheran Church congregation, buoyed by the support of faithful Lutherans.

Their journey from the depths of despair to the path of recovery is a testament to faith and community.

Moment of despair
Tony Dorazio, an elder at St. Paul, received a phone call as Ida dumped torrential rains on the region. The call was from a resident of the parish house the church rents. They told Dorazio water was coming into the basement, and they were going to shut the power off.

As Tony rushed to the scene, he was met with a staggering sight. The floodwaters had rapidly risen, submerging not only the parish house but also the church itself. The parking lot was inundated, and the church’s lower level, including the fellowship hall and kitchen, was flooded.

It was a moment of despair, but the community’s faith remained unshaken.

Helping hands
Congregation members, both old and new, lent a helping hand. They started down the road to recovery, discarding damaged belongings, and restoring what they could.

The flood waters from Hurricane Ida left St. Paul Lutheran with a mess to clean up. With the helpful hands of congregational members and assistance from LCEF, the church is stronger than ever before.

The church’s fellowship hall, kitchen and other areas were severely affected by the flooding. Appliances were damaged, furniture ruined and precious documents soaked.

“We knew there was really not too much salvageable downstairs or in the house even,” said Jack Dobrucky, superintendent and president of the congregation. “We lost a lot of our tables, chairs, the whole kitchen, the wall below the cabinets. But we had help from folks in our own congregation and the Spanish congregation that shares the space with us. They were so helpful coming in to clean up.”

‘Nothing would be covered’
Meanwhile, congregational leaders contacted their insurance company. “At least our insurance will cover it,” said Evan Scamman, the pastor of St. Paul. “That’s why we have insurance. And then about two weeks later we learned from the insurance company that nothing would be covered. There’s generally a waiver in most policies that excludes flood damage.”

The church opted to use a disaster relief loan from Lutheran Church Extension Fund.  “When we learned that insurance was not going to be coming through for us, we called LCEF to see how they could help us,” Scamman said. “And this is when we learned about LCEF’s disaster relief loan, which is specifically designed to help congregations in our sort of situation to help us get back on our feet and get back to doing what God has called us to do here in Greenwich.”

A beacon of hope
In the face of adversity, St. Paul Lutheran Church stood strong, proving that with faith, unity and the helping hands of its community, the congregation could overcome even the most formidable challenges. Their journey from floodwaters to recovery is a testament to the power of faith and community.

“We have 120 years so far of ministry here in Greenwich, and we don’t know exactly what the ministry will look like as we continue,” Scamman said, “but we do know is that God will be leading and guiding and directing our steps in whatever He chooses.”

St. Paul Lutheran's resilience shined in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.