Finish the Church: Hurricane Irma’s Impact on Our Campus

Direct hit from Hurricane Irma Causes Over $4 million in Damage but Does Not Impact Our Spirit

We are blessed to be back in our church, again whole with our enlivening faith environment. This new persistent message: Finish the Church, is our final push of the Capital Campaign, to complete the transformation of the entire campus and ensure our success for the next 30 years. While we have come far already, we will all need to work together to complete our vision of the new Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church.  Over the next few weeks, we want to give you an opportunity to learn where we stand, how we got here, and what we need to do as a Parish Family. 

September 10, 2017, was the single worst day in our campus’ history. The eye of this massive storm passed right over our church, tearing the Northern corner of the building off and sent tiles flying throughout the campus, some even impaling our air conditioning units. The force of the storm was so tremendous that it sheered palm trees in half and sent a branch seven feet into the ground of our Memorial Garden (and yet it did not hit a single urn or headstone).

The rest of the campus was not spared either. The Parish Activity Center, especially the Ballroom, was totally destroyed. The Claussen Center was flooded. Trees and exterior lights were uprooted. It was total devastation.

The storm did not spare a square inch of Saint John. Then, our issues were compounded with the loss of power for over two weeks. The impact of no air conditioning within the buildings that were saturated from the rain and water of the storm caused even more damage that originally anticipated.

Our Parish Family sprung right into action, even without power in our own homes. We created one of the largest donation drives and local distribution points in North Naples. We received palates of food and water. We worked with the County and FEMA to provide services to Naples Park Elementary School familes. We held diaper drives to serve East Naples through St. Peter’s FEMA station. All in all, we provided over 45 truckloads of donations to those most in need.

The challenges presented by Irma have nearly been overcome. We have almost completely transformed the campus of Saint John the Evangelist, not just repaired the $4 million in damages. Irma gave us a unique opportunity. Instead of just doing the basic repairs identified by insurance or the minimal renovations envisioned at the outset of our Capital Campaign, we had the chance with every wall opened and all the issues of the past 30 years clearly visible, to cost effectively confront deeper renovations and substantially renew every facet of our campus. From parking to plumbing, sound and lighting to flooring and seating, we were able to create a brand new Saint John that still feels like home.

Stay tuned for next week, when we will discuss everything that was accomplished within the past two years.

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