Church Damaged by Pipe Break Moves to Suitland

(Photo by Maryland Newsline's Alexanda Wilding)

Property at the Capitol Heights church was damaged in January by the water main break. (Photo by Maryland Newsline's Alexanda Wilding)

A Capitol Heights church that was extensively damaged earlier this year by a 54-inch water main break has temporarily relocated to a new location in Suitland, where it shares a space with New Birth Christian Church.

Pastor Stephanie Stratford of the Ekklesia Family Life and Worship Center said the church ended its lease at the previous location and has been worshiping in the new location since early February. The church is looking for a permanent home and is in the process of gathering funds to eventually relocate, Stratford said.

“I am very hopeful that someone who owns property suitable for the church would consider donating it to the church because of our tragedy with our building,” Stratford said. “Even if it needs fixing up, we’d be willing to do that.”

She said she hopes the church can remain in the Capitol Heights, Forestville, District Heights or Suitland areas.

The Christian community and political leaders have been helpful in the recovery process, and the church has received some “considerably generous” donations, Stratford said.

In late January, 50 million gallons of water burst from a broken water main in Capitol Heights after reinforcing wires in the main snapped. Water rushed into the office park housing the church and onto the nearby inner loop of the Capital Beltway.

About 400,000 Prince George’s County customers of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission lost water pressure due to the burst main, and they were under a boil water advisory for four days.

The inspection of the broken main has been completed, but it will need additional repairs and is not in service at this time, said WSSC spokesman I.J. Hudson. It will cost about $480,000 to repair the main and restore the parking lot that surrounds it, he added.

WSSC is installing an acoustic fiber optics system on the larger and older mains as preventative measures to prevent further incidents. The system is expected to be installed in all the larger mains by 2013, Hudson said.

Following the water main break, the church settled with WSSC for damages to its property in an amount that Stratford didn’t wish to disclose, but said was “fair.”

The insurance company representing the owner of the damaged building – The Korth Companies Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md. – is handling financial discussions with WSSC, said company Vice President Terry Korth.

Stratford said she likes the church’s current location, on Meadowview Drive in Suitland. “It’s in the heart of the community, and our mission is directed toward the community,” she said of her following, which includes about 60 families. Members worship there at 7:30 a.m. on Sundays and hold a Bible study at the same location on Thursday evenings at 7 p.m.

In the days that followed the water main break, church members worshiped at Galilee Baptist Church in Suitland and Brown Memorial AME Church in Washington.

Donations to the church can be sent to P.O. Box 1479 Suitland, Md., 20752.

–By Maryland Newsline’s Alexandra Wilding

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