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Portion of roof ripped off Cleveland church amid strong overnight storms

Debris from the church was seen scattered across the roadway, which also took down a power line.

CLEVELAND — After strong storms swept through Northeast Ohio for the second night in a row, we’re getting a closer look at some of the damage left behind at the New Life At Calvary Church in Cleveland, which has been serving Cleveland since 1880.

It was later confirmed by the National Weather Service in Cleveland that this damage was the result of an EF-1 tornado

"To see our church in this state is pretty hard," said senior pastor Kellie Sullivan. 

Sullivan said she received a phone call from Cleveland police just before one in the morning on Friday. While initially they thought the damage may have been from lightning, a look at their cameras revealed that the wind was responsible for the damage done, including a tree that fell and is now leaning on the church. 

“I’m so glad that if this had to happen, it happened at a time when no one was there," Sullivan said. "Because you would have had anywhere from newborns to sixth graders, plus the adults that would have been up there with them.” 

The area below where the roof blew off is an area Sullivan calls "youth church." Additionally, she said people are often in the church parking lot, or even resting or sleeping underneath the awning of the church at night. 

"For whatever reason, God kept them back last night," she said. 

Now, she said they will begin the process of speaking with their insurance company as well as the City of Cleveland, which will have to conduct inspections to look into the structural stability of the building. 

"My heart sunk," said Chris Kamis, president of Absolute Roofing and Construction. The church is one of the company's clients, and on Friday, crews were on scene looking at the damage. 

“It not only took the shingles off, but it took the wood decking off, and it took the rafters off as well, which is structural, it’s just a huge issue here,” Kamis said. 

Kamis said it could take months to repair the roof on the church.

"It's heartbreaking to see this," Kamis said. "This is their place of worship, this is an extremely special church, an extremely special building that has been here for over a century, and it's worth taking care of and rebuilding."

Sullivan said she spoke with the church's board of elders, all of whom are determined to keep moving forward. 

"They were real hopeful and optimistic. Every single one of them said they were going to rebuild," she said. "It just touches my heart, every single one said we're going to rebuild. We're not going to give up. And this is our test."

Sullivan said the church supports the community through resources like a clothing pantry, scholarships, and hot meals. She said a hot meal distribution is scheduled for Friday night, and they still plan to provide that, despite the damage. 

Now, she is asking for prayers and support from the community, and said the church is accepting donations. 

As a precaution, police also closed the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 79th Street early Friday morning.

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The storms also left thousands upon thousands of people without power early Friday morning.

We're now expecting much calmer weather conditions as we head into the weekend.

“It’s not going to be as hot today," explains 3News meteorologist Hollie Strano. "We’re also going to gradually clear. Still a few leftover shower chances possible, but we’re not talking severe weather at this point."


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