Arabi church destroyed but altar remains

ARABI, La. (WGNO) — Residential homes aren’t the only buildings in need of repairs after the March 22 tornadoes in New Orleans — businesses and places of worship are also damaged or destroyed.

Timothy O’Neil, who lives on Friscoville Avenue in Old Arabi, spent Wednesday cleaning up the damage caused by Tuesday night’s tornado.

His home still stands where other properties just yards away weren’t so lucky.

Around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday night, O’Neil, along with his wife and daughter, retired to the back of their home to settle down.

“It’s not even like a train. It’s like a jet engine. Just a hiss and the house shakes,” O’Neil described. “Our back wall has opened up a bit; Some sheetrock fell on us. It felt like an hour, but it’s probably only 10 seconds.”

Directly across from O’Neal’s house is La Vid Verdadera, also known as True Vine Church, on the corner of Friscoville Avenue and St. Claude Avenue.

The rubble of the church now covers the adjacent property, but according to the pastor’s wife, it was by the grace of God that its altar still stands.

“That gives us hope. We will rebuild and come back,” said Leda Pagan, whose husband is a Pentecostal pastor. “It’s great. My kids play the instruments here and the instruments are intact there. And that’s how I know God is with us. We and our neighbors are grateful for that.”

Pagan says they called late Tuesday afternoon to cancel that evening’s service due to the weather.

“We hardly ever cancel a service and last night it was a difficult decision but we made the decision and I’m glad we made the right decision,” Pagan said.

In the midst of desolation the Gentiles know one thing; They will resume worship at their place on the corner.

“We love this community. This is where God sent us,” said Pagan. “All of our church members, even other churches, have come forward to help and support us and for that we are very grateful.”

If you would like to support the Church in its recovery process, call (504) 231-1138 or email [email protected]

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