By Isabel Lawrence
One week after tornadoes ripped through Northeast Ohio, leaving tens of thousands without power and tearing a large portion of roof off a historic Cleveland church, repairs are underway.
The winds left a gaping hole in the roof of the New Life at Calvary Church on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 79th Street. The house of worship has served the Cleveland community since 1880. A temporary roof is now in place over the opening.
“It looks so much different, the roof is covered, the hole is covered, it is considered waterproof now,” said senior pastor Kellie Sullivan. “They have completely covered the roof and the hole, but the problem is, they’ve also informed me that this is a temporary roof. They’ve put all of this up simply to protect us from the water and the rain, and it all has to come back down for the real roof.”
Tornado damage could impact holidays
Unfortunately, Sullivan said there’s no telling how long repairs could take, and said it could be a year before things are back to normal due to the building being so old.
“They said they’re going to take it slow, they can’t give us any type of timeframe,” Sullivan said. “So that’s a little scary to me when we have to plan for Easter and Christmas and Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, to not really know what real use of our building we’ll have.”
Sullivan said she’s also not yet aware of the full extent of the damage.
“Right now in our building we have structural engineers, and so they’re assessing the stones, the beams, all the supports of the church,” she said. “Once they are complete with their evaluation, they’ll be able to give us a full total tally of everything that needs to be repaired.”
Although the church is not fully usable, Sullivan said the gym has been deemed safe, so they will be hosting worship services out of the gym, and work to continue providing community resources, like their clothing pantry and hot meals.
“Present day it does everything from feed the community, of course worship service, it does a lot of other social services to the surrounding area that’s in desperate need of that kind of help,” said Council President Blaine Griffin.
The church is located within Ward 6, represented by Griffin.
A rich history
“That church is part of Millionaire’s Row, it has a lot of history there,” he said. “I was really in awe when I talked to pastor Kellie the day of and all she wanted to do was make sure she got in there and got her church records, because of the rich history of that church.”
Without the full scope of damage and work that needs to be done yet, Sullivan does not yet know how much this will all cost. However, she said if the community wants to support the church, they do have a GoFundMe page where people can make donations.
“For me personally, it’s really hard to ask for money, to say we need money, but truly that is the best gift right now to help support us in our building campaign,” Sullivan said. “We want to come back stronger and better as a healthy church building, and we want to continue to provide care in this community.”
Watch WKYC’s story here