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Faces of the Storm: Congregation still recovering after March tornado

For the congregation at New Hope Baptist Church, last March's tornado left damage that made a slight bump in the road. Pastor Allen Holbrook said rumors had been circulating that the church building would have to be torn down, but that is not the case.

"It's a slow process, but we're coming along," Rev. Holbrook said. "There's nothing here yet that's not fixable. It is a slow process, because it is seek and discover."

During the reconstruction process, the crew discovered bent purlins when they removed ceiling tiles and wrinkled beams when they removed the damaged walls. When recent winds caused lighting fixtures to fall down from the ceiling, Rev. Holbrook said the crew is now proceeding cautiously, checking for structure damage as they move down the building.

"Right now, the focus has been to get us dried in again and to get a new roof on before it rains," he said. "Then they'll come in and do the interior work."

But the church keeps on going. Generators were used to power the first two services after the tornado. Sunday evening and mid-week services had been cancelled due to the uncertainty of the structure damage, but the Sunday evening service resumed a couple of weeks ago. Classes have been rearranged so the adults meet in the nursery and the nursery, moved to the fellowship hall.

The Pastor said the roof, exterior metal and window replacements are completed. The back of the building that was "blown away" has not been replaced yet. Inside, the entire kitchen, the heating and air conditioning units and most of the ceilings need to be replaced. Other interior work includes re-hanging doors that "got shaken off their hinges," and repainting.

"This building took a hit," Rev. Holbrook said. "It looked bad from the outside, and once we got it cleaned up, it looked good. But then when you start walking around. ... I'm surprised it's still standing. ... It hit the back, but we have structural damage all the way up to the front of the building."

Right now, the building is the church's priority. But Rev. Holbrook said he is ready to get back to the pre-tornado focus.

"I think we are seeing daylight anyway," he said. "We are excited about getting it fixed back and getting on with the other stuff that we were planning to do in the ministry before we had to stop and take care of the building."

Web posted on Thursday, May 24, 2007

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