Youth pastor Jon Gagnon checks a pump near the driveway of the home he lives in with his family behind the Steamboat Christian Center. High water from the Yampa River is flowing around the home and has flooded the crawl space and well. The family is living in another location until the water recedes.

Photo by John F. Russell

Youth pastor Jon Gagnon checks a pump near the driveway of the home he lives in with his family behind the Steamboat Christian Center. High water from the Yampa River is flowing around the home and has flooded the crawl space and well. The family is living in another location until the water recedes.

Steamboat Christian Center parishoners rally to protect parsonage

Water damaged youth pastor’s suitcases, wife’s wedding dress

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Worship uninterrupted

The parking lots at Steamboat Christian Center were mostly dry as of Wednesday afternoon, and church officials said the plan was to host Sunday worship services as usual.

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A pump works to keep up with the rising waters of the Yampa River in front of the Steamboat Christian Center parsonage Wednesday afternoon. The Yampa River is now flowing around the home where youth pastor Jon Gagnon and his family have been living and flooded the crawl space and well at the home. The family has since moved to another location.

— When the cold water of the Yampa River found its way into the crawl space beneath the parsonage at the Steamboat Christian Center on Tuesday afternoon, the damage was modest yet significant.

“It ruined our suitcases and my wife’s (Tausha’s) wedding dress,” Youth Pastor Jon Gagnon said.

For a man whose home was being threatened by a flooding river, Gagnon was remarkably upbeat Tuesday night, perhaps because so many members of the congregation had come out to help put sandbags around the parsonage and a nearby building used for youth gatherings.

Kim Folkestad, executive administrator for the church on the city’s southern boundary, said the call for help first went out via email and text messages late Friday afternoon. Sixty to 80 members of the church congregation turned out over the weekend to place the full allotment of sandbags from the city of Steamboat Springs. By Tuesday night, the men and women were done placing the last of $900 worth of additional sandbags bought from Elk River Farm and Feed, Folkestad said.

“We placed 1,000 bags in three hours,” one of the crew members said.

As it has almost everywhere upstream from Mount Werner Road to the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Colorado Highway 131, the Yampa has jumped its banks above the church and spread out over its floodplain with disregard for its usual bends and oxbows.

The Steamboat Christian Center is off U.S. 40 via Dougherty Road, just beyond the River Place subdivision. The church itself is situated on slightly higher ground than the parsonage and was unaffected by water as of midday Wednesday.

The volunteers consulted with the owners of Minglewood Timbers, immediately west on Dougherty Lane, and they agreed on a strategy of using sandbags to force the sheets of water coming downstream into a channel leading to the open field above the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation horizontal well field just downstream.

Five pumps were put to work sucking water away from the parsonage, and the strategy was working Wednesday afternoon.

However, Gagnon said the church drinking water well had been inundated and was no longer usable.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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