Riverdale church steeple impales roof during Irma
RIVERDALE, Ga. - A Clayton County pastor said he is grateful the damage was not worse.
Tuesday, winds from the remnants of Hurricane Irma lifted the steeple off Emmanuel Baptist Church in Riverdale and planted it, point-first, into the roof of the sanctuary.
"Incredible. It was almost not even real," said Pastor Gregory Ward of the damage. "It allowed for quite a bit of water. When I saw it on last evening, it was just rushing through."
According to Ward, the church is home to a small congregation of about 150 members and making the repairs will be difficult financially.
"Considering what's been happening between Hurricane Harvey and then now Irma, rooftops have been taken away altogether or walls have collapsed and so, we're fortunate," said Pastor Ward.
The community, however, has already stepped up to help the small church. Yolanda Scott-Ackers stopped by Emmanuel after driving down Highway 138 and noticing the damage.
"I happened to see the steeple down and my son was like, 'What is that?'" Scott-Ackers explained. "I had passed and I got way down there and I turned around. I said, 'I know what I got to do.'"
Ackers handed cash to a very appreciative Ward.
"I love the Lord and I just thought you know, I mean, everybody needs a little help," said Scott-Ackers.
Unbelievably, this is not the first time the church has had to replace the steeple. Ward said the church caught fire a few years ago after lightning struck it during a service.
"I was there in the midst of preaching and then lightning came and we smelled the smoke and fortunately, we had two firefighters within the congregation to help diffuse that," Pastor Ward said. "I'm wondering how many more should we replace."
With the sun in the forecast, Ward said he hopes to begin the repair work Wednesday.