Two ice storms - the first on February 11th and the second on February 15th - have devastated West Virginia and the surrounding region, constituting the worst natural disaster in over a decade. The weight of the massive layer of ice left by the storms caused the collapse of a huge number of trees, destroying countless buildings and crippling infrastructure throughout the entire state. Our county of Wayne was the hardest hit in the entire state. The monastery itself has sustained serious damage and been left without power, phones, or internet service for over a week amidst sub-freezing temperatures. However, thanks be to God everyone at the monastery is safe and nobody was hurt during the storm.
The most serious damage has been to church, where a large tree fell on the roof directly over the altar area. The metal roof was punctured, and the drywall of the ceiling below it has a large hole with crack lines continuously expanding outward. Due to the ice on the roof we have not yet been able to safely assess the extent of the damage, which is likely to be significant.
Another tree fell onto the roof of the candle factory, and a third tree completely crushed one of the monastery minivans. The large wooden cross at the bottom of the entrance hill was demolished by fallen tree limbs.
We have been hard at work cleaning up the extensive storm debris over the entire area of the monastery, but serious repairs to the two damaged buildings will have to wait until conditions are safe to get onto the roofs (we have covered the holes in the roofs with tarps in the meantime).
While some of the cells and smaller buildings of the monastery are outfitted with wood stoves, the larger buildings rely on generators for heat and power during these crises. Unfortunately no fewer than four generators broke down within the first few days, and in addition the three largest generators became inoperable due to the inability of the natural gas lines to keep up with the extraordinary demand throughout the region. We have deployed kerosene heaters in several of these buildings, where the brothers without stoves in their cells can gather to sleep at night.
Thankfully the roads became passable after several days, allowing us to make trips to town for supplies and to make communication with the outside world.
We had originally been provided with an estimate of power restoration for next Tuesday (February 23rd), however more recent exploration by the power company has revealed that the circuit delivering power to the monastery suffered further damage after the original power outage. In addition, the melting of the ice that is occurring today now that temperatures have risen above freezing is expected to cause a number of rebound outages as trees and power lines spring back as they thaw. There is currently no estimated date for power to be restored.
We know that many people miss the live-streamed church services we have offered since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As far as we can tell, our infrastructure will be able to resume providing these services as soon as power and internet is restored to the property.
We are working to fulfill orders placed via our online store as quickly as we are able, however the process is very slow since we need to drive hours to town to download the orders, return to the monastery to print them off and package them, and then drive back into town to ship them since no mail or shipping services are able to reach us. We appreciate everyone's patience as we are doing our best to run our business during these circumstances.
Many people have been asking how they can help. Some benefactors have very kindly donated two generators to the monastery to replace some of those which have broken down, for which we are very grateful. Our initial estimate to repair the remainder of the damage to our property currently stands at $30,000, though this may change as we learn more. Any assistance you can provide will be greatly appreciated, and above all please pray that God will bring us through this difficult time safely! Thank you so for all of your concern, your prayers, and your love.