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Irma takes out two church steeples in Warner Robins; one to rise no more

Irma topples church steeples in Warner Robins

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Irma toppled the steeples of two churches in Warner Robins on Monday, but that didn’t stop pastors and trustees from offering thanksgiving the next day.

The steeple of City Church on Corder Road rested on the roof Tuesday, hanging by a steel safety chain, with damages to the building estimated at $100,000, said Dwayne Evors, the lead pastor. Some of the structural beams may have to be replaced.

“But hey, thank God for insurance,” Evors said. “We’re looking forward to getting things back together around here.

“We’re going to keep going forward. We’re blessed. We’re alive. No one was hurt. ... We’re just going to keep on doing what we do for Jesus,” he said.

Meanwhile, the steeple at Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church on South Davis Drive crashed to the parking lot during the storm Monday, but there was only minor damage to the roof, said Justin Phillips, chairman of the trustees.

The wind damaged some shingles, but there were no gaping holes left when the wind ripped off the steeple, he said.

“It’s just a physical matter that I’m sure can be fixed,” Phillips said. “The Lord is still able, the church is still here. It’s real minor damage. Nothing major.”

The congregation is thankful that no one was hurt, he said.

When Irma was hitting full force Monday, Evors said he got a call that the City Church steeple was giving way. He and the children’s pastor checked it out. Sure enough, it was.

“We looked up and there was huge hole in the top of the building,” Evors said. “We could see the sky, the wind, the storm, the rain in on us and saw the steeple flailing around up there … and water coming in the building,” Evors said.

Rain poured through a gaping hole left by the steeple, but the baptistry below kept the sanctuary from flooding. The top of the steeple made another hole when it hit the roof.

“If it had not been for the baptistry, it would have flooded the sanctuary,” said Associate Pastor Ken DeLoach.

Rain came down hallway walls like a waterfall and drenched portions of the carpet in the hallways, he said.

The steeple is not expected to be replaced, DeLoach said. The church lost another steeple that was blown off in a storm more than 10 years ago.

Two steeples toppled is too many, he said.

The steeple is expected to come down Thursday, which means no church service Wednesday. Sunday worship service will be on schedule, though.

Meanwhile, Union Grove’s regular Wednesday Bible studies will go on as scheduled. But they will be held in the Vision Center.

Roofers already have covered the small holes in the roof, with an insurance adjuster expected to come and prepare a damage estimate.

Damage is expected to be repaired in time for Sunday worship. The church is celebrating its 130th birthday this month. The steeple was added in 1995-96, Phillips estimated.

“I am just so grateful for God’s grace and mercy, … not only for us but for Warner Robins as a whole,” said church trustee Lena Nixon.

Becky Purser: 478-256-9559, @BecPurser