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A lightning strike in N.S. hits church steeple, congregation looks for temporary home

Click to play video: 'Damage to N.S. church could take months to repair'
Damage to N.S. church could take months to repair
A church in Falmouth, N.S., is looking for a temporary home after it was struck by lightning and caught fire last Thursday. As Vanessa Wright reports, the water damage could take months to repair – Jun 19, 2023

A church in Falmouth, N.S. is looking for a temporary home after it was struck by lightning and damaged by fire.

Falmouth Baptist Church pastor Gail Whalen-Dunn was at home last Thursday afternoon, preparing to head over to church, when she said she had a “bad feeling.”

That’s when she received a text informing her the steeple of the church had been struck by lightning, and the building was on fire.

“You kind of think, ‘Hit by lightning?’ And you hear of lightning strikes all the time but you never think it’s going to happen to you or you’re going to be directly involved in it,” said Whalen-Dunn.

Falmouth Baptist Church pastor Gail Whalen-Dunn said the congregation is in good spirits. Vanessa Wright/Global News

People in the area say the roar of the thunder physically shook their homes.

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“You’ve heard thunder and lightning before and you know, right? But, you know, nothing, nothing like that. We all knew that something for sure had been hit,” said Pam Abell.

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To further complicate things, a tornado watch had been issued for the Windsor and Falmouth area at the time.

The pastor rushed over to the church and was met by more than a dozen fire trucks. Firefighters used a ladder truck to reach the steeple and were eventually able to put out the blaze.

Despite the chaos, no one was injured. However, repairs for the water damage could take up to six months.

“A quarter of our sanctuary was affected on the inside. Those carpets were soaking wet. There was water down in between those walls,” said Whalen-Dunn.

The church hosted Sunday service at another nearby church, and are now beginning to look for a temporary home.

Whalen-Dunn said the congregation is in good spirits.

“All those years of weathering COVID and staying together as a congregation, you know even though the doors weren’t open, we still continued to worship,” she said.,

“We were still a congregation, we were still a family of God and we will continue to do the same through all of this.”

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— with a file from Rebecca Lau 

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