[Sunday, October 27, 2019]
By now, you are likely aware that a portion of the roof on the Youth Building collapsed late Thursday/early Friday. As best as anyone knows, the heavy rains Thursday night caused water to accumulate on the roof adding significant weight to an already compromised structure. This extra weight caused the center of the roof to collapse which snapped a fire sprinkler line causing thousands of gallons of water to flow unrestricted for at least an hour throughout much of the church. The Sanctuary was less affected than much of the other building with relatively limited amounts of carpet being soaked.
We are so grateful that no one was injured. No migrant guests were in the building Thursday night. Even if there had been guests sleeping in the building, they would not have been in the Youth Building as we have known for some time about the failing roof and have stopped using the building for anything for many months.
The TPC Council has been aware of the deteriorated state of the roof structure of the Youth Building for some time. The two presenting issues we have been trying to deal with were a noticeable pooling of water on the roof and a visible split of one of the trusses that held up the roof. All of the trusses have not only been holding up the weight of a flat, gravel roof on top, but also the weight of two drop-down ceilings hanging beneath the trusses. Once we realized the extent of these problems, we moved all youth activities to a room in a different part of the church and restricted access to the Youth Building. When we began hosting the large influx of migrants earlier this year, we housed them in different parts of the church as well.
In the process of trying to diagnose the problem(s) and develop an action plan, it became apparent that the solution to the roof problem was multi-faceted. Roofers would not repair the roof until we had addressed the compromised truss. We couldn’t repair the truss until we could get an engineer to evaluate the structure and develop a plan of action. We’ve had several structural engineers look into the matter (the most recent came out this past Monday), but all of them needed to have the drop-down ceilings removed to be able to see the entirety of the structure. And prior to removing the ceilings, we needed to abate asbestos. Last week, as we were beginning to abate the asbestos, a large portion of the plaster ceiling in the Youth Center fell to the floor. The asbestos abatement stopped until we could ensure the safety of the building. Before we could shore up the ceiling, we had some of the heaviest rain we’ve had in a while leading to the recent collapse.
Today (Saturday), crews began demolishing the collapsed roof debris and shoring up the upper walls of the Youth Building. The goals of this work are to ensure the safety of the building and to lighten the load on the rest of the building by removing all of the roof debris as well as the old ceilings and associated structure. If all goes well, our contractors will be able to complete this work in such a manner as to prevent additional damage. Once the building is safe, we will make it watertight again and discuss how best to move forward in a more controlled manner. In any event, we will do all we can to preserve the façade of the building that faces Navarro as well as the beautiful stained glass cross donated by the Porter Loring family in the 1950s.
We are also focusing on remediating the portions of the church affected by Friday morning’s flooding. Our contractors are focused on drying out the floors and walls and treating the entire facility for mold. It is not clear how long this process will take.
Just like Thursday’s storms gave way to a beautiful Friday, the Travis Park Church congregation has a long history of working together to create new beginnings from disastrous events. We are blessed to have supporters throughout San Antonio and beyond who understand how important this congregation is to the community. There remains a lot of work to do. Working together, we will ensure Travis Park Church rises beyond this setback and continues to fight for social justice and serve our neighbors in downtown San Antonio.