CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - More than 10 months since Hurricane Florence devastated parts of Conway, one church overcome by the floodwaters still hasn’t been able to open its doors.
Trinity United Methodist Church has sat empty since the storm and church leaders said while they hoped to begin holding services in their sanctuary by Christmas, it may be much longer.
Rev. Kim Strong relates their story of recovery to the story of Job.
“Job lost everything and then God gave him back more than he had," said Strong.
People along Long Avenue lost their homes, possessions and keepsakes. Hundreds of church members also lost their place of worship. The buildings at Trinity United Methodist Church were destroyed by floodwaters caused by Hurricane Florence.
Nearly one year later, fans are still running inside the sanctuary. No pews, floors, or signs of construction.
“I would’ve never thought last year after Florence that we would still be in this situation. But really, other than asbestos abatement, nothing has really changed after the hurricane,” said Strong.
Strong said through the lengthy process, it’s difficult to see what little progress has been made. As the church awaits the final numbers from FEMA, plans for the renovations are already drawn, including a new life center with a nursery and offices.
“When this is over, when this is finally over, our buildings are going to be better suited for the ministerial needs of the 21st century than we were before," said Strong.
The sanctuary will be elevated, and a flood retaining wall will be built at the back of the church to prevent the threat of any future flooding.
“We’ve been flooded three times in four years so we would be crazy to think we’re not going to get this again. But we’re going to be at least one to three feet above the flood level from Hurricane Florence," said Strong.
But perhaps the hardest part, Strong said, is seeing neighbors abandon their homes, some leaving the church as they move to higher grounds.
“We have certainly found out the church is not the building, the church is the people who are in it," he said.
Through it all, the church has leaned on faith to rise above the floodwaters.
The total cost of renovation and rebuilding is projected to cost up to $5.5 million. The church said it’ll have to raise about $1.2 million.