PHOTOS: Arkansas church takes damage in storm

Posted: October 24, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

Back view of Temple Emanuel near Green Forest. The Pentecostal church was damaged in storms early Sunday morning.

Straight-line winds ripped part of the roof off a Spanish-language Pentecostal church in Carroll County early Sunday morning.

Pastor Jose Reyes said he, his wife and six children live in an apartment in Templo Emanuel, which is about 3 miles east of Green Forest.

Reyes said he was awoken by a loud noise at about 1:15 a.m. Sunday.

"There was only one 'hurrrumm' like when somebody crashes the car against something," he said.

Reyes thought the wind had blown a door open and slammed it against a wall. But when he got up to close the door, he saw lightning through cracks in the ceiling.

"That's when I realized the roof was gone," he said.

Reyes said he took his family to the home of one of the church leaders. Nobody was injured.

He said he shut the electricity off in the church building and was waiting Monday to hear from an insurance adjuster.

Reyes said the wind took about 40 percent of the roof.

"It's dangerous to be there," he said. "One of the walls is almost down. I don't know if the roof will come down. I don't want to be there."

Pam Pietrycha, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tulsa, said winds were about 60 mph in Carroll County early Sunday morning, based on reports from storm spotters, but gusts could have reached 70 mph.

From photographs of the damage, the agency determined it was straight-line winds, Pietrycha said.

"That's a tin roof," she said, while looking at a photograph of Templo Emanuel. "It doesn't take much to peel that away."

Reyes said the church walls were made of cinder block and metal.

Pietrycha said the only other report they had of serious building damage from the storms was in Lavaca, 14 miles east of Fort Smith. A tree limb fell on a house, opening a hole that allowed wind to whip into the attic and tear off part of the roof.

Tim Gehring, northwest area coordinator for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, said there also was damage to some buildings in Franklin and Logan counties, primarily barns and sheds.

"Spotty winds here and there," he said.

Some houses had limb damage, but the primary inconvenience from the storm was a loss of electricity, Gehring said. The winds also took down power poles.

Gehring said 4,000 people were without electricity early Sunday morning, from Fort Smith north to the Missouri state line. Electricity was restored to almost all of those homes by midday Monday.

Gehring said there were no injuries reported in connection with the thunderstorm that passed through Northwest Arkansas early Sunday.

Bishop David Killingsworth at Forerunner House of Prayer in Green Forest offered space to Templo Emanuel so churchgoers can have services and meetings while their building is being repaired.

He said both congregations are affiliated with the Church of God of the Apostolic Faith out of Tulsa. Templo Emanuel held services in the Forerunner building for a few years before acquiring its own building 12 years ago.

Killingsworth said the church elders met Sunday about offering space to Templo Emanuel.

"We had a hastily called meeting yesterday morning," he said Monday. "The response was 'You didn't even need to ask. This is a no-brainer.'"

Killingsworth said Templo Emanuel can use the Forerunner building for as long as they need.

"There is no time limit on it," he said. "I told them however long it took. I think there's a chance they're going to have to rebuild the whole thing. If that's the case, we could be looking at a year or so."

Reyes said Templo Emanuel's service times may have to be changed temporarily while they are at Forerunner. Templo Emanuel normally has a service for children on Wednesday nights and services for adults on Friday nights and Sunday mornings.

Inside the lobby area of Temple Emanuel near Green Forest. The Pentecostal church was damaged in storms early Sunday morning.

Metro on 10/24/2017