Paducah church damaged in weekend storm - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Paducah church damaged in weekend storm

By CJ Cassidy - bio | email

PADUCAH, KY (KFVS) - Members of a Paducah church count their blessings, despite the hand Mother Nature dealt them this weekend.

A powerful storm ripped half the roof off the Southland Baptist Temple just a few hours before Palm Sunday services.

No one was hurt, but the storm left behind quite a bit of damage and quite an impact on those who witnessed it firsthand.

"I heard a loud noise, and looked out my dining room window at the old church roof and I saw looked to me like a tornado," said Gene Murt.  "A small tornado, circling quite around taking up several pieces of roofing."

He actually saw what weather service experts call a downburst.  It's a strong wind that can sometimes be mistaken for a tornado.

Murt say he had a clear view of it from behind the Southland Baptist Temple.

"I immediately got in my car, and drove around to look at it," he said. "I saw the roof was completely gone."

Crews braved the cold temperatures to clean off the pieces of roofing littering the front yard, and a tarp covers most of the building.

Inside, plastic sheets protect the pews and piano, and de-humidifiers suck the moisture out of water soaked carpet.

"We had a major air conditioning unit that was destroyed on the roof that broke the gas line, and we had a gas leak that we had to call and have shut off," said Pastor Jimmy Franks.

The church's organ and sound system also had water damage.  Still, Franks says he's just glad the damage took place before services began.

"We need to get the water leak stopped and get things repaired to where we can have an Easter service this Sunday," he said.

As for Gene Murt, he says he's had his fill of thunderstorms.

"Even though I wasn't affected by it, it's a little scary because you don't know which way it'll turn and go," Murt said.

Church leaders say about 1000 people show up typically for Easter services, and they expect to have their work wrapped up before this weekend.

The church is insured, but no word on the actual cost of the damage.

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