“We were still working on December 2015 flood damage when this happened,” Mike Lorance said of the recent flooding that swamped the Wabash Frisco and Pacific Railroad in Glencoe.
The railroad was among a number of Glencoe area nonprofits that were hard hit by the flood in early May. The Community Church of God, located at 115 Third Street and established in 1963, also was inundated by floodwaters despite efforts to protect it with “a wall of sand.”
“We started Sunday night [April 30] to sandbag with what Wildwood provided for us and a house next door – we piled 10 tons of sandbags around the building originally, as we did in 2015, and our church members also filled sandbags for the house next door,” said Jim Lee, son-in-law of co-pastor Glenn Templeton and a church board member.
Volunteers brought 650 tons of material to the facility on the morning of May 1 and, in about 12 hours, built a wall about 7 feet tall all the way around the church. That berm held until 4 p.m. on May 2, when the levee broke. Water got into the church within 45 minutes, Lee said.
“We thought we had 8 inches to spare but the flooding projections kept rising and we had no more material or ability to get back in [to the church],” he said. “The water ruined about $50,000 of improvement we had put in after the 2015 flood, such as new hardwood floors, walls, insulation, carpet, bathrooms, electric equipment, kitchen and classrooms.” Volunteers were able to remove pews, furniture and sound equipment that the church is now using at the Old Pond School where temporary services are being held.
Church members have set up a GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/rebuild-glencoe-community-church to accept donations.
At 199 Grand Ave., the Wabash Frisco and Pacific Railroad [WFP] has been running each Sunday from May through October since 1961, but the flood derailed this season’s start.
“We’re now shooting to open May 21,” said Lorance, a WFP Railroad Association Board member. “We had a lot more material things and supplies destroyed in the 2015 flood. This time, we moved all our rolling equipment and engines to a track that we’re extending outside of the floodplain, so they were spared.”
Still, Lorance said the flooding was significant.
“Each building – such as the roundhouse where engines are stored, the car barn, our meeting room/office, public bathrooms, etc. – had from 10 to 12 feet of water,” Lorance said. He notes that about two dozen association members, who operate the trains, now are cleaning mud out and that the goal for the railroad, like the church, is to stay in Glencoe.
“We want to serve the families who’ve been riding our trains, sometimes for generations,” Lorance said. He added that the best thing people can do is to come out and ride the train – rides cost $4 each for riders age 3 and older and are free for younger children. The rides run about every 20 minutes from 11:15 a.m.-4:15 p.m. on Sundays. Lorance said a GoFundMe page [www.gofundme.com/wfp-rr-2017-flood-recovery] is trying to raise about $10,000 to help rehab buildings and that people who want to donate can do so online or by calling (636) 587-3538.