Community feeling the impact of church lightning strike

[anvplayer video=”5053002″ station=”998130″]

After a powerful storm delivered a lightning bolt that severed the steeple of an iconic church in Downtown Duluth Saturday, neighbors are recounting the experience.

"I was in my basement when the bolt struck,” Dan Rau of Duluth said. "It was pretty startling because of the big crash."

The Duluth Fire Department responded to Hope City Church within minutes of the strike and sent a crew up in the air to assess the damage.

"They surveyed the situation. Determined there was no fire,” Captain Michael Consie said. They were also able to assess damage. The bricks had been pulled and blown apart.”

Many of these bricks lay scattered on the ground Sunday, which saddened Jerry Michelizzi of Duluth, who spent much of his life building upon the church’s over 100 year old legacy.

"I have been the president of the church for 38 years and we just sold it to New Hope,” Michelizzi said. “My granddaughter sent me a picture of the church and said it had been struck by lightning. It’s been pretty sad."

Miraculously, the cross at the top of the church remained largely undamaged. The stained glass windows also appeared to weather the storm. This was on top of the church bells, which Michelizzi is hopeful survived because they are located in the left steeple, which was not struck.

But, the threat of the right steeple toppling is still there, which is why the area has been blocked off until further notice.

"The area has been deemed unsafe for the public,” Consie said.

Estimated cost of damage is nearly $200,000, but Hope City Church does have insurance and they said they are hopeful that God will bring something good out of this.

Hope City Church plans to continue hosting their services. They will post updates about temporary locations on their Facebook page.