Timothy O’Neil, who lives on Friscoville Avenue in Old Arabi, spent Wednesday cleaning up the damage Tuesday night’s tornado left behind.
His home still stands where other properties, located just a few feet away, weren’t as lucky.
Around 7:30 Tuesday night, O’Neil, along with his wife and daughter, retreated to the back of their house to hunker down.
“It’s not even like a train. It’s like a jet engine. Just a whoosh and the house shakes,” described O’Neil. “Our back wall kind of opened up a little bit; some sheetrock fell on us. It felt like an hour, but it’s probably only 10 seconds.”
Right across the street from O’Neal’s house is La Vid Verdadera, also known as the True Vine Church, at the corner of Friscoville and St. Claude avenues.
The debris from the church now covers the adjacent lot, but, according to the pastor’s wife, it was by the grace of God that their altar still stands.
“That’s what gives us hope. We will rebuild and come back,” said Leda Pagan, whose husband is pastor at the Pentecostal church. “This is amazing. My kids play the instruments here, and the instruments are there intact. And so, I know God is with us. And so, we’re grateful for that and our neighbors.”
Pagan says they made the call late Tuesday afternoon to cancel that evening’s service because of the weather.
“We hardly ever cancel service, and last night, it was it was a hard choice, but we made the decision, and I’m glad we made the right decision,” said Pagan.
Amid the devastation, the Pagans know one thing; they will resume church service in their spot on the corner.
“We love this community. This is where God has sent us,” said Pagan. “All our church members, even other churches, have reached out to help us and to support us, and we’re very appreciative of that.”
If you’d like to assist the church in their recovery process, call (504) 231-1138 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.