Tuesday's Storms Hit Hawkins Church

Some east Texans are still picking up the pieces from the storms that moved through yesterday.

And in one case, a lightning strike literally brought down part a of a church roof, while people were inside the church.

It happened around 2:00 pm Tuesday afternoon at the First Baptist Church of Hawkins in the 200 block of Forest Avenue.

KLTV 7 News' Bob Hallmark has more on the close call for those inside the church.

At the height of Tuesday's storms, members of the First Baptist Church heard, and felt, a direct lightning hit to the building.

"We had a loud thunderclap, and we didn't realize for a few minutes what had happened," said Pastor Bill Holmes. "There was an extremely loud noise, the whole building shook."

Church member Darla Hassell heard it, as well. "All of the sudden I saw a bolt of lightning just coming over the back side of the church. It hit, and it was like a gunshot."

A 3 foot section of 8 inch thick concrete was blasted away from the steeple of the church.

"...those who were here at the church at the time were glad they didn't come outside when the lightning struck. Several hundred pounds of concrete came toppling down," said Pastor Holmes.

"Oh, it sounded like what I assume what a bomb would sound like going off - a cannon," said Hassell.

The debris crushed an awning, and narrowly missed double glass doors on the front of the church.

"There were sparks coming from some of the equipment upstairs," said Hassell.

They're thankful that no one was hurt, but reflecting on how close it was.

"I always hear 'Well, preacher, if I came to church the roof would cave in', well, that guy must have came by yesterday," says Pastor Holmes.

"Hey, it's just stuff and stuff can be fixed if you don't get someone hurt then it's okay."

Church officials say services will go on as scheduled. The amount of damage to the roof is still being assessed.

Bob Hallmark, reporting. bhallmark@kltv.com