Church grounds destroyed on Election Day

Church grounds destroyed on Election Day

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A local pastor of a church says the grounds are destroyed after the church was used as a precinct on Election Day.

Voters attempted to drive through the grass, which was saturated from all the rain.

The pastor of Wildwood United Methodist Church finally took to Facebook, posting a video because he says he's been getting the run around from the Election Board officials about who will fix the damage.

Unfortunately, there are no paved areas to park but you can see where folks were getting stuck, even using floor mats for traction.

The election was more than a week ago, and the pastor says there's been no effort to fix it.

In his jeans and boots, Rev. Clay Loadman is dressed to tackle the current needs of his church. What was once a grassy parking lot is now mostly mud with deep tread marks in the ground.

For the past eight years, Wildwood United Methodist Church has been lending their property to the Chatham County Board of Elections, acting as a voting station for precinct five.

"It's never been a problem until now," said Rev. Loadman.

He says the process over the years has been very informal. The Board of Elections will call a week before to ask if they can use the facility. But this year, all the voters flocking to the polls on a rainy Election Day stirred up a mess.

Rev. Loadman says he's never seen it like this before because even on a rainy Sunday, they have a congregation of less than 20 which is a lot less traffic than what an election attracts.

Since last Tuesday, Rev. Loadman says he's called the Election Board, sent pictures and videos to officials, and even went the Board of Election meeting on Monday to talk to the chairman himself. But he hasn't made much progress and can't get any concrete answers.

"I can't get anybody out here just to survey the damage to see how bad it is," said Rev. Loadman.

The ground is still saturated, and combine that with deep craters and mud, these conditions are impacting church services. Last Sunday, hardly anyone could park on the grounds and there is barely a shoulder on the road to park safely.

The pastor says they can't afford this problem nor can they afford possibly deterring folks from church because of a muddy parking lot.

"We make ends meet and we are very active in the community but we just don't have a budget to have this kind of stuff repaired," said Rev. Loadman.

After all these years of helping the county, Rev. Loadman is losing faith that the county would return the favor.

"I would really hate to think that if you're going to lend your property for the democratic process, that you have to do it at your own risk," said Rev. Loadman. "I believe in the democratic process and I want to have people come and vote. And I have no problem with them using the facility, but as a result of that, we cannot attend worship on Sunday because there is absolutely no place for us to park."

The church has not decided whether they'll be a part of the runoff election.

WTOC spoke to the Board of Elections chairman who says they are working with other county agencies to fix the problem but could not give a timeline. And he says as of now, they are not accepting responsibility for the damage because it was a weather related event.

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