Churches in Virginia Beach damaged by violent storm recovering and looking ahead

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by Joe Flanagan - 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on July 13, 2014 at 6:26 PM

Updated Sunday, Jul 13 at 6:50 PM

VIRGINIA BEACH -- On the first Sunday since a tornado and destructive winds blew through the resort area of Virginia Beach, two churches that were damaged held services, and worshipers found reasons to give thanks.

From Norfolk Avenue at Mediterranean, where the steeple was blown off Beachlawn Baptist Church,  to 15th, 16th and 17th streets, where there was tornado damage, to Star Of The Sea Catholic Church where two people were injured, many parishoners of both churches were affected.

One of those injured was Gail Maria Harkins, "...and she's still in the hospital," said Father Steve Deleon, pastor at Star Of The Sea Catholic Church.  "The other is Amanda Ruffle, who had a bad sprain in her ankle and a wound and was released after spending some time in the hospital," he said.

Images of the steeple and the car on the lawn made national news. It turns out Beachlawn Baptist Church had just renovated that steeple.  A new one will run about fifteen thousand dollars, and there is major damage to the roof, too.

"It tore off a lot of shingles, so it's going to be a whole re-roof job and that I am not sure what it will cost - 20 to 30 thousand - I really don't know," said Dan McClanan with Beachlawn.           

Jim Gallagher lives across from Star Of The Sea School and Church and next door to the house that lost its third floor.  He dashed over to assist the elderly woman who lives alone and dialed 9-1-1 first.

"The Fire Department, the Police Department - within I would say less than 2 minutes, they were there, said Gallhger. "I can't say enough about the response from our people on the ground here."

Lots of extra prayers on this Sunday for the injured and for survivors as services went on as scheduled at both churches.

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