By Travis Mounts
Volunteers from the Argonia United Methodist Church fanned out across the town after church on Sunday, lending a helping hand to a number of residents who were impacted by last week’s storms.
The round of storms on Monday, July 22, caused considerable damage. Many homeowners lost large limbs and even entire trees, and small tree limbs and leaves covered roads, sidewalks, vehicles and the sides of houses. Both Argonia school buildings suffered significant roof damage. The schools took a beating inside, too, because of rain that came in through the roofs and broken windows.
Another round of storms on Tuesday, July 23, downed more limbs and poured more water into the schools, especially Argonia Elementary. While the high school roof repair is nearly done, work has not started at the elementary school. Each consecutive rain storm has dumped more water into classrooms and the main hallway.
Progress is being made, both in large and small steps.
Nearly 50 people helped in Sunday’s clean-up effort, including about three dozen members of the church, plus additional volunteers from Harper United Methodist Church and elsewhere.
Church member Bill Mock said volunteers worked at the church and at Chikaskia Manor. They picked up limbs at 15 or 20 homes, raked about a half-dozen yards and cleaned up about three-fourths of the River Walk.
Argonia School District superintendent Dr. Julie Dolley said the schools don’t need any volunteers – at least, not yet.
“I’ve had a lot of people ask if they could come up and help us,” she said.
For now, the district is waiting for the roofs to be finished, and for the restoration company to do its work. After that, however, there may be a need for help in getting classrooms put back together.
The damage across the city was extensive, too. Mayor Alan Brundage said he is concerned about several downtown buildings, primarily empty buildings, that had their roofs cave in. Damage to the wall of the building south of Farmers & Merchants State Bank has forced the bank to close its brand new drive-through.
Brundage said on his block alone there are three homes that sustained more than $20,000 in damage. Many homes suffered roof and siding damage and lost windows, air conditioners and TV antennas.
City crews are continuing to work on municipal property. The large cottonwoods that were downed at Salter Park have been removed, but there is still more work to be done. The city pool has re-opened.
“I think folks are doing really well. We especially want to thank the Argonia United Methodist Church. They really helped a lot Sunday,” said Brundage said. He said he was pleased with the entire community’s response. “Everybody’s pitched in and helped. I think the people responded very well.”
People of all ages helped with Argonia United Methodist Church’s clean-up effort last Sunday. Virgil Coley rakes debris as young Johnie Blades supervises from nearby.