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MINERAL WELLS(CBS11) – From debris filled parking lots, to downed trees and power lines, Mineral Wells wasted no time today clearing away the aftermath of Mother Nature’s wrath.
“People just started showing up,” says Shelley Ramsey.
Ramsey is a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church in Mineral Wells. She says word spread quickly that the house of worship had taken a direct hit. National Weather Service officials have confirmed that the tornado was an EF-1.
“The first thing that we saw was the walls that had been sucked out,” says Ramsey, while walking through the darkened building. “It just, it catches your breath, you can’t believe what happened.”
A 30-foot glass wall crashed into the church entry, damaging a nearly century old stained glass mural. An exterior wall of the second story youth area was stripped away in seconds. Still, the congregation is grateful that the building was not as busy as it would have been on a Wednesday evening, when the church gathers for mid-week worship.
“Oh, very thankful,” says the First Baptist Pastor Nathan Buchanan. “We did have a group that was here about 30-45 minutes prior, thinking about doing a basketball practice. But, with the storm coming in, thankfully they cancelled.”
Wednesday evening’s service at the church has been cancelled. But, Pastor Buchanan says he hopes to worship in the sanctuary on Sunday if the building is deemed safe. Otherwise, he says they will worship as a church family—even if they must gather at another location.
Debris also surrounded the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church just across the street and stretched into surrounding neighborhoods.
“The whole top of the roof was covered in trees,” says Joe Shoemake, as he cleared away branches from his front yard, “this whole area…it was a bad deal.” Shoemake says his family took shelter in a bathroom as the tornado tore through. Afterwards, trees had breached the roof in three places.
All across Mineral Wells, hands were busy helping those impacted clear away the debris. But, hearts were also full of gratitude that no one was injured.
“This is just a building,” says Ramsey with conviction. “The building can be fixed. The church is the body and the body is rock solid.”
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