Mayor says no timetable or costs for repairs identified yet

Presbyterian Church, Black Pioneers Cemetery damaged in Euharlee storms

By JAMES SWIFT
Posted 1/14/20

Two historic sites in Euharlee were severely damaged in Saturday’s heavy storms. A significant portion of the Euharlee Presbyterian Church roof was knocked off while several large trees were …

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Mayor says no timetable or costs for repairs identified yet

Presbyterian Church, Black Pioneers Cemetery damaged in Euharlee storms

Posted
Two historic sites in Euharlee were severely damaged in Saturday’s heavy storms. A significant portion of the Euharlee Presbyterian Church roof was knocked off while several large trees were uprooted along the Black Pioneers Cemetery. 

On Sunday morning, large pieces of siding, lumber and metal roofing material remained strewn throughout the woodlands along Covered Bridge Road. Trees and large branches were toppled over as far down the roadway as the Euharlee Baptist Church cemetery.

Numerous headstones and grave markers were overturned by Saturday’s severe weather. Moderate damage was also reported near Euharlee City Hall and Joe Cowan Park.

“We’ve got a bunch of pine trees and stuff down there, some big oaks down,” said Euharlee Mayor Steve Worthington. “That’s about the extent of it as of right now.”

Despite the sheer power of the weekend storms, Worthington said the impact on utilities was surprisingly minimal.

“We had very little power outage in Euharlee,” he said. “Even the church, after the damage, still had power in it — the lights were burning and everything else.”

Although the damage to the church and cemetery is severe, Worthington said he has yet to hear a financial estimate for how costly repairs may be.

He did, however, have an estimate for how long cleanup throughout the City may take in the wake of the storms.

“Probably, it will take us a month to get cleaned up and get where we need to be,” he said. 

Worthington said the exact timetable for repairs to the church and cemetery remains unknown.

“That’s going to have to be contracted out and you know how it is when you get contractors,” he said. “It’s going to have to meet certain standards, it’s going to have to be inspected — we may have to get a structural engineer to look at the building, so that’s going to take a while.”

Funding for church and cemetery repairs, he said, will come out of an umbrella policy for the City. And while Euharlee has yet to seek outside assistance for relief efforts, Worthington said he would certainly be interested in seeking State — and perhaps even federal — aid money to make the needed repairs.

“We’re just in the beginning stages,” Worthington said. “Our city manager and public works and all is really assessing the damage done … but I don’t know when this will actually get started.”

Worthington said he was proud to see so many community volunteers show up after the storm to help safeguard the historic sites. By Sunday morning, the enormous hole on the church roof was patched by a massive blue tarp and large pieces of debris had been swept up from the cemetery lawn.

“It was marvelous what showed up,” he said. “We called the County and asked for assistance and they had told us they could not assist us because they were sending their crew to Adairsville — it was amazing, the people of the City of Euharlee, I cannot stress that enough, how they stepped up to the plate and fulfilled any and all expectations of citizenship.”

Euharlee City Manager James Stephens echoed those sentiments in statements made to Atlanta media outlets. 

“It is wonderful to serve a City where the community comes together as the citizens of Euharlee did to save the historic interior and objects of this lovely building," he said. 

As of Monday afternoon, Worthington said a Black Pioneers Cemetery cleanup event on Jan. 20 sponsored by Georgia Power is still scheduled.

Such historical properties, Worthington said, aren’t just emblematic of the community — from his perspective, they are the City of Euharlee.

“They’re very precious to us,” he said. “Ever since I first run for office in 1991, one of my first priorities and still my first priority is preservation of our historical value within the City of Euharlee.”

Although the storms were no doubt severe, the National Weather Service has not indicated that a tornado touched down in Euharlee over the weekend. 

No major injuries were reported in Saturday’s storms in Euharlee. Joe Cowan Park and the nearby walking trail are expected to remain closed to the public until at least Wednesday. City officials have asked members of the public to refrain from entering the grounds of Euharlee Presbyterian Church and the Black Pioneers Cemetery until further notice.

“The debris includes broken boards, rusty nails and pieces of metal roofing,” a public announcement from the local government posted on social media Monday afternoon reads. “There are also hanging limbs and leaning trees in the cemetery and park. Even if you haven’t spotted them, it does not [mean] it is safe to go in there yet.”