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Flash flooding causes extensive damage to historic Atlanta church

The sudden flooding damaged most of the fellowship hall at Central United Methodist Church.

ATLANTA — Parts of south Atlanta are grappling with the aftermath of flash flooding that wreaked havoc on properties in the area, including the iconic Central United Methodist Church near the Atlanta University Center campus. 

Members of the congregation said the flooding was unlike anything they had seen in previous years. Central United Methodist Church's parking lot, in particular, bore the brunt of the devastation. A thick layer of mud now coats the once-pristine pavement. 

Pastor Vance Ross, who has led the congregation for five years, expressed his astonishment at the deluge. 

"The first thing that happened when I saw the water was, 'That's not Central. What am I looking at?' I couldn't begin to say how much water came in. I can say this. It looked like a river. Fast-moving river was pouring into a lake or a pond. That's the best I can give you. It was a whole lot of water," Ross said. 

The most severe damage occurred in the fellowship hall, where a 4-foot high waterline now marks the height of the flooding. Inside, chairs, tables, and pews are overturned, revealing the sheer force of the rushing waters.

Trustees and other church members dedicated their day to assess the damage and initiate preliminary repairs. The situation is particularly concerning for the church as it houses the music department of Clark Atlanta University, raising concerns for the students who rely on the facility.

"Other people have lost all sorts of items of importance—clothes, household items, or belongings in dormitories," Ross said. 

He emphasized the broader impact of the flooding on the community.

While the congregation begins the arduous cleanup process, Ross remains hopeful that the church will once again serve as a beacon of hope and continue its mission to carry out the Lord's work. 

"We're looking to be, again, effective and efficient. We're not just looking to do it quickly so we can get something done. We want to be sure we're ready for that," he said.

Despite the extensive damage, Ross noted that the sanctuary of the church will be safe to use this Sunday. However, the church's role in providing parking for Atlanta United and Falcons games is under evaluation for the upcoming weekend.

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