Chesapeake church looks to rebuild following devastating tornado

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – A congregation is cleaning up the destruction left behind by a tornado that destroyed their church.

The Real Life Christian Church was hit by an EF2 tornado Friday evening. According to the National Weather Service the tornado had maximum winds of 120 mile per hour.

“We usually plan for the next six weeks. Now we’re just trying to figure out the next six hours,” says Brett Coates, who is the church’s executive director.

Coates says the church was built in 2009, and they recently added 4,000 square feet to the building for students and children.

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“We were getting in the groove. Everything was detailed, ready to go. Now, it’s all gone,” Coates says.

An alarm company called him Friday evening to let him know that the sprinkler system was going off. After asking questions, he knew there was a bigger problem.

“When I first pulled up and saw it, I was somewhat ready for it but when you see it, it’s hard to be ready for it,” he says.

A family living next door to the church says they saw the tornado.

“It got really quiet, we all came downstairs, all you heard was like four jets fly by, sounded lit it. We’re like that’s not jets because we looked at the sky,” says Brandon Osmundson.

Osmundson says it looked like a black curtain went across the field. He says he’s thankful his home was not hit.

“Thank the Lord for coming and protecting us. A couple of feet this way, not it’s our home being damaged,” Osmundson says.

An out-pour of support from the community, including monetary donations, has been coming in as offers for worship space.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by people offering to help. I just want to say thank you,” Coates says.

Check out the church’s website here if you would like to donate to their relief effort.