GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) – Some powerful storms pushed through North Texas on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, leaving a trail of damage behind them. One of the hardest hit areas was Garland, where families are waking up to damaged buildings, downed power lines and torn up trees.
Storms ripped the 65-foot steeple away from the South Garland Baptist Church. Once reaching tall above the building’s sanctuary, it is now sitting in pieces in the church’s parking lot. Most church members had left the area shortly before the storms hit, but two women were still inside of the building as strong winds began to pick up on Tuesday evening.
Joyce Still is one of those women who were inside of the church. She could not believe the damage that was left by the storms. “It had been quiet — just raining,” Still explained, “and then, all of a sudden, it was just a huge gust of wind pushing against my window, and what I think was probably hail because it sounded like it beating against the window. And, at that point, I thought it might come through the window, so I thought it was a good time to leave. And that’s when the lights went out.”
In addition to the steeple, two massive air conditioning units were plucked from the church’s roof and tossed onto the sidewalk below. A set of bleachers from a nearby playing field — about 100 yards away — were tossed onto church property. The sanctuary’s ceiling was damaged and water leaked inside. And toppled trees broke apart a fence.
“I think the biggest matter was that people were just in the parking lot within 10 to 15 minutes, max, of what happened,” said Pastor Larry Davis, knowing that the damage could have been much worse. He said that about 30 people — mostly children — had met up at the church shortly before the rain, wind and hail arrived. “People were all in the parking lot and they dispersed… and this hit.”
Neither of the women were hurt during the incident, but both were shocked to see what had happened to their church building. The church is now cleaning up the debris, and plans to start rebuilding as soon as possible. The electricity there has not yet been restored.
The regular Wednesday night service at South Garland Baptist Church has been canceled, but folks still plan to meet there at 6:30 p.m. for a prayer session. Davis is hoping that everything will be fixed up in time for Sunday’s services.
Oncor reported more than 3,000 customers without power on Tuesday night, with half of those being along the border between Dallas and Garland. By early Wednesday morning, as more storms continued to move across the DFW area, Oncor had increased that number to 5,500 customers, with 80 percent of them being in Dallas County.
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