Catholic groups respond to rapid thaw

| March 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

Rapid snow melt in the Twin Cities and across Minnesota has local Catholic organizations on high alert.

“It’s everywhere,” said Paula Petke-McCarty, claims/risk manager for Catholic Mutual Group, about the thaw’s impact. “There isn’t any one area that was more affected than another. It was a really bad winter. We had massive amounts of snow.”

Catholic Mutual, a St. Paul-based nonprofit, administers self-insurance for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It includes property insurance for all 187 parishes and parish schools in addition to liability insurance.

The Twin Cities had a record snowfall of 39 inches in February, beating the 1962 record by 12.5 inches. It also marked the fourth-highest snowfall for any month in the metro. Heavy snow also fell across the state and other parts of the country, leading to widespread Midwest flooding.

Claims from parishes and schools have poured in regarding damage from ice dams on roofs and water seepage, Petke-McCarty said March 19, although confidentiality prevented her from disclosing how many.

She said it’s the highest claim total she’s seen in her seven years with Catholic Mutual. The St. Paul-based insurance company also is reminding parishes and schools about preventative measures, such as keeping exterior drains clear and attaching drainage extensions.

“I’m really hoping, and I believe we aren’t going to have any flooding here that will affect our churches,” Petke-McCarty said. “We’re obviously going to have flooding from the rivers.”

Catholic United Financial Foundation is gearing up its storm response efforts as forecasters expect more flooding in coming weeks. A foundation of Catholic United Financial, the St. Paul-based nonprofit supports Catholic schools, chastity education, vocations and disaster relief. Catholic United Financial is a nonprofit fraternal benefit company in St. Paul.

“We figure the highest levels haven’t been seen yet,” said Robert Heuermann, CUFF’s executive director, March 19. “We’re kind of holding our breath waiting to see what actually transpires.”

The Mississippi, Minnesota, and Crow rivers have hit major flood levels, according to the National Weather Service. The St. Croix River has moderate flooding. Some streets near the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul were closed and people were sandbagging to prevent more damage from rising waters.

Flooding could linger into May, forecasters said.


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