Church destroyed in New Orleans tornadoes, but altar remains standing


ARABI, La. (WGNO) — Homes aren’t the only structures that need repairs after the March 22 tornadoes in New Orleans — businesses and places of worship are also damaged or destroyed.

Timothy O’Neil, who lives on Friscoville Avenue in Old Arabi, spent Wednesday cleaning up damage from Tuesday night’s tornado.

His house is still where other properties, located a few meters away, were not so lucky.

Around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night, O’Neil, along with his wife and daughter, retreated to the back of their house to squat.

“It’s not even like a train. It’s like a jet engine. Just a whoosh and the house shakes,” O’Neil described. “Our back wall kind of opened up a bit; plasterboards fell on us. It lasted an hour, but it’s probably only 10 seconds.

Directly across from O’Neal’s house is La Vid Verdadera, also known as True Vine Church, at the corner of Friscoville and St. Claude Avenues.

The debris of the church now covers the adjacent land, but according to the pastor’s wife, it is by the grace of God that their altar is still standing.

“That’s what gives us hope. We will rebuild and come back,” said Leda Pagan, whose husband is a pastor at the Pentecostal Church. “This is amazing. My children are playing instruments here, and the instruments are there intact. And so, I know that God is with us. And so, we are grateful for that and our neighbors.

Pagan says they called late Tuesday afternoon to cancel that evening’s service because of the weather.

“We hardly ever cancel service, and last night was a tough choice, but we made the decision, and I’m glad we made the right decision,” Pagan said.

In the midst of devastation, the pagans know one thing; they will resume the religious service in their place at the corner of the street.

“We love this community. This is where God sent us,” Pagan said. “All of our church members, even other churches, have reached out to help and support us, and we are so grateful.”

If you would like to help the church in its recovery process, call (504) 231-1138 or email [email protected]


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