Why would 19 people show up at church on a Sunday wearing jeans, old shirts, gloves and big boots? Because they know what they’re doing.
On Sept. 11, a crew of volunteers gathered at St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish in Yardley to — for the fourth time in six years —travel into flood-ravaged Yardley borough to help homeowners mop up and clean out.
The beleaguered borough has suffered four devastating floods since 2005 — and that doesn’t count other high-water events in previous decades. But since the first of the most recent floods that deluged quaint little streets and many historical houses, the Good Samaritans from St. Ignatius and St. John the Evangelist Parish, and from the Father McCafferty Knights of Columbus Council 11013 were on the “job.”
The group, one of several organizations sanctioned by local officials to enter the affected areas, was originally braced, then relieved, when Hurricane Irene kissed the coast but did not rain down on Yardley, as expected. Then came tropical storm Lee, which took up where Irene left off, swelling the Delaware River to well above flood stage.
“We were taken by surprise by Lee, but we were still prepared because we have the experience,” said Pat Joy, a member of the Knights of Columbus and a leader of the cleanup crew.
If Lee was an unpleasant surprise, Father Charles Kennedy was a happy one. Father Kennedy, a former parochial vicar at St. Ignatius, but now assigned to a Philadelphia parish, is a veteran of the Yardley floods and knew to bring his crowbar to help pull up saturated carpets and rip down soggy walls.
“I was always impressed by the willingness of the parishioners to help, and by the people who accepted our help,” Father Kennedy said. “These people are never looking for sympathy. They’re just glad to see someone ready to assist.”
One of those recipients is Chuck Dolan, whose family — wife, Pam and four-year-old boys — were swamped for the fourth time, and who has been helped by St. Ignatius workers each time.
“When times are tough, it doesn’t matter who you are, people come to help, and St. Ignatius was always there for us,” Dolan said.
Pat Joy said the volunteers worked from about noon to 4 p.m. and their toil was just as much spiritual as practical.
“I personally believe that Jesus wants us to love our neighbors, and this work reflects that love,” he said.
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