Local News

Steeple Blown Off of Garner Church, Homes Condemned

Posted March 20, 1998

— One of the best views of the Friday night storm came from a Garner man who made an amateur video as it all poured in. First the transformers blew, then the church.

First Church of the Nazarene lost its steeple, lost most of the roof, but could have lost a lot more.

"We heard the doors beginning to open and close," says Pastor Riley Powell. "Then we heard the wind come. The emergency lights came on. We saw smoke and dust in the building. We went to the old sanctuary and saw that the roof was gone. Fortunately for us, just 20 minutes early, all of our daycare children had gone home, so none of them were in the building."

What's left of Southside Auto Mart is across the street from the church. Workers and customers were inside when the storm hit.

Mark Oldham was there. He heard a mechanic call for everyone to take cover. At that time, people ran to the bathroom and a storage room. Everyone could hear the rattling of the doors and the breaking of the glass. Oldham calls it an amazing experience.

Back at the church, emotions came out and the pastor tried to sum things up. Pastor Powell says he's glad the hand of the Lord was upon the church. It could have been a lot worst.

The Garner church wasn't the only thing in the path of the storm. A number of Garner homes were condemned by safety officials after trees were uprooted, slamming into a residential neighborhood.

George Shaw, a Garner resident, says his home took a serious hit. Shaw heard glass breaking and the house shutter. He says he knew at that point that something serious had happened.

Ten families in the area were not allowed back into their homes Friday night. They were forced to stay with friends or in emergency shelters. andJulia Lewis


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