By: Margaret Gunselman, guest contributor On 6/22/2011
A deadly EF-3 tornado struck Reading, Kan., May 21, damaging the United Methodist Church and many other structures.
On June 7, I learned that the [Reading United Methodist Church’s] bell had come out of its cradle on one side. They think the vibration of the storm unseated it, as it was sitting at an angle resting on the 6” x 6”s that were beneath it. I was assured that it was safe; however, they closed off the front entry, which is directly under the bell tower. This piece of bad news felt really awful at the time.
Workers came June 21 to take off the old roof in preparation for putting on a new one. As part of that process, the bell was reseated and the front entry was opened. A roof replacement was begun for the bell tower, as the old one was completely gone. With the bell back in place, we can use the front entry again, and we can open the front door, which will help with ventilation as we have only two windows on the south that can be opened.
The air conditioner hasn't been replaced yet. And the sound system has not been re-installed.
The carpet in the parsonage is to be laid on Saturday. Glass is to be put back into the two broken windows as well. So, it should be ready next Tuesday when Hyun Jung and her family plan to move in. The outside work can be done later.
Before the tornado, there were 100 houses in Reading. Almost half of those have now been demolished. The Reading Lumber and Grain was destroyed.
The post office building was demolished last Saturday. Mail is currently coming from Lebo, and we don’t know if we will get to keep the post office. We aren't sure if the bank will remain. The Miracle Cafe plans to rebuild.
We also don’t yet know about the water tower. It shifted some in the storm, so is not being used now. They are working to determine if it is structurally sound. The Baptist church was shifted on its foundation, I understand. So, we are remarkably fortunate to have a building that is structurally sound, and it is being used for all the meetings.
I would like to express our thanks to all the congregations who have prayed for us or in any other way assisted. I also know that some are waiting until the recovery work begins, and that is also a gift. Things are very quiet in Reading with so many people gone. And, as yet, we do not know what the future will bring as far as people returning.
Rev. Margaret Gunselman is pastor at Reading UMC.