Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Blue Mountain Elementary Will Open Again

On Thursday, July 9 at approximately 6:45 p.m., a powerful storm struck Pennsylvania Conference's Blue Mountain Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School (BME) in Hamburg, Pa., taking off the roof, destroying the gym and knocking down several walls of the 46 year old brick structure. Rachel Wardecke, principal, was alone in the building at the time. Shaken, but not seriously injured, Rachel immediately told reporters, “Our school will open again.”

Story by Tamyra Horst / Photos by Rick Bianco

Photo by Rick Bianco Photo by Rick Bianco

The BME school board and the Pennsylvania Conference of Seventh-day Adventist leadership are grateful for God’s protection and that no injuries were reported involving any students or staff.  No damage was reported at Blue Mountain Academy, located across the road from BME.

Photo by Rick Bianco Photo by Rick Bianco

Members of the local community, area churches immediately joined the school family, offering prayers and support in any way they could. Area businesses donated and delivered supplies. Walmart contributed cases of water.

Photo courtesy Pennsylvania Conference Photo courtesy Pennsylvania Conference

Lowes, the first on the scene with donations, brought tarps, water and various supplies. Pizza Hut and Dunkin Donuts brought pizzas and donuts for the volunteers. Local contractors offered their services for free—including tree services to remove the damaged trees near the structure. Volunteers worked both Friday and Sunday after the tornado to remove debris and clean the site as much as was safely possible. Even media personnel there to cover a story pitched in and helped with cleanup.

Photo by Rick Biano Photo by Rick Biano

Insurance adjusters were quickly on site to assess the damage and are working closely with the Pennsylvania Conference to provide the funds needed for a temporary facility and for the future plans of BME. A demolition company will professionally remove the rest of the building.
The tornado may have destroyed the building, but it did not destroy the future of Adventist education in Hamburg. BME has been serving families in the Hamburg and surrounding areas since 1954 and is committed to providing students an Adventist Christian education that includes academic excellence, social development and spiritual growth. The school will open as scheduled on August 18, 2015. Blue Mountain Academy and Blue Mountain Academy church have both graciously offered the temporary use of their facilities for the coming school year.

Community members rallied together to help clean up Blue Mountain Elementary after a tornado hit it last week. Photo by Rick Bianco Community members rallied together to help clean up Blue Mountain Elementary after a tornado hit it last week. Photo by Rick Bianco

See photos of the school right after the tornado here.


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