Water main break leads to church flooding

Church of the Mountains seeks space for homeless services

A water main break last Friday led to flooding at the Church of the Mountains.
Courtesy photo

Last week, construction workers hit a water main on Old Brockway Road with a backhoe.

The domino effect from the break eventually led to an over-pressurization of a valve in downtown Truckee, causing a failure and flooding.

As a geyser of water spouted from downtown, members of the Church of the Mountains — United Methodist Church — began seeing water seep in through their doors.

“I headed down to the church and by the time I got there the drain that is outside of the church was bubbling over, and then it turned into a huge geyser,” said Administrative Assistant Cathie Foley.

Foley, who said the last major flood in the area occurred in the early 1990s, indicated the basement of the church suffered damage and will no longer be able to host programs for the local respite center, a homeless health care group.

“The lower level is out of commission,” said Foley.

Meanwhile, the church is using its backyard space to continue serving food, and additional programs for the respite center, but a permanent location is needed.

“We need to find a permanent location,” said Foley. “That morning (last Friday) we still opened up. Our staff was still serving food out of the backyard.”

Foley added that work to repair water damage will take at least three months, and that Truckee and the Truckee Donner Public Utility District have been helpful in taking care of insurance claims.

The church, which was built in 1869, was set to resume indoor services for the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19 on Sunday, though they were canceled due to the flooding programs.

“Although this gets in the way of us meeting in person, we are still acting as a church,” said Foley. “We’re stepping up and we’re making it happen.”

Foley said the church had an assessor review the damage on Wednesday, but a dollar amount for repairs wasn’t immediately available.

Concerning the area’s homeless services, Foley said the church is currently looking for a space for the respite center, a search that has been ongoing for the past year.

“That’s a hard piece of the puzzle, because zoning for homeless services really needs to happen in a commercial area and here in the Truckee-North Tahoe corner there’s so little availability of acceptable space,” she said. “Now I’m sort of reaching out to other churches that might have space that we could use, but really we’re asking the community if there’s a commercial building that someone knows of that is accessible for us to use.”

Truckee Donner Public Utility District Public Information Officer Steven Poncelet said the investigation into the water main break is still underway.

Poncelet declined to release the name of the company responsible for the incident.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643

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