DISASTER STRIKES HODGES
Hodges Presbyterian Church, located in the small rural town of Hodges, South Carolina, was established in 1899. Since then, the church's walls have accommodated marriages, baptisms, Easter and Christmas services, among others.
On the night of August 19, 2019, a fire broke out in the church's steeple and spread to the building's rear. As a result of the fire, the church's steeple collapsed and large portions of the roof had caved in. Blackened rubble covered the ground in front of Hodges Presbyterian. The blaze occurred during a storm and was caused by a lightning strike near the base of the steeple’s belfry, with collateral damage to the fellowship wing caused by the efforts to extinguish the flame.
The blaze left behind extensive damage to the roof and front end of the church. The bell, warped from the heat, was stuck underneath the debris. The entire bell tower, entrance, choir room and sanctuary were fully compromised. The rear offices and basement kitchen area suffered damage due to moisture and mold.
The sanctuary sustained water damage, leaving drops of water dripping from ceiling beams. Books and tables were covered in insulation, while broken and burned beams of wood littered the ground. Hodges Presbyterian was forced to hold Sunday’s services at the education center on the church’s property following the devastation.
POLICYHOLDER’S CONCERNS PRIOR TO SCOPE
When GC3 arrived on the site, salvaging the wooden pews prior to the structure's collapse was a big issue we faced during the rebuild that needed to be addressed immediately. Due to the Church's history and significance in the Hodges community, the policyholder's initial concern was whether or not we would be able to come up with the design necessary to mimic the original that was constructed in the 1890’s.
Ten years earlier, the insurance carrier paid to have a roof installed and no one inspected the roof after it was completed. The lightning system was not reconnected. As a result of the building's bell tower being struck by lightning, all of the roof structure had been burnt, forcing GC3 to tear the whole building down.
When disaster struck the Hodges community, they turned to GC3 to provide the repair. Shortly after our team arrived on site, we encountered a shutdown on all trades in the area due to COVID-19, posing a real threat to push completion of the project past the current schedule. The virus also made it difficult finding contractors to bid, as bids were coming in higher than Xactimate pricing from the estimate.
The next step was to call contractors to get more bids and signing demo contractors that could work during the pandemic. Our project manager, Tim Bartels, met with the building inspector and walked through condemning the building. After condemning the building, GC3 worked on the code budget and the back addition from the abatement. The sub-flooring and wall framing were completed by subcontractors. This was followed by our completion of the code budget and the back addition add-on of scope from the mold and asbestos abatement.
GC3 worked seamlessly with the insurance carrier to establish an exact build back estimate. Duplicating the bell tower from photos, after it had already burned, with limited resources made for some unique aspects of the project.
Though the blaze destroyed the steeple and left extensive damage to the roof and front end of the church, much of the interior of the sanctuary was spared. including the altar, session room and offices. Nearly all of the church's stained glass windows were intact. The sanctuary sustained water damage, but the church's piano organ was spared.
The nave of the church also suffered damage, however the central and front portions remained intact. Miraculously, it also includes the prayer books and hymnals protected behind each pew. When devastation grasped Hodges and the organization thought the Church was gone forever, GC3 stepped up and successfully put it back as it was prior to the event.
In total, the project took 6 months to complete, as our reconstruction team was able to rebuild the Church back to its original glory with the code adjustments. The Hodges organization held a grand opening ceremony and presented project manager Tim Bartels with a rare, handcrafted furniture piece for his part in the successful re-build. GC3’s work allowed the Hodges community to keep the faith.