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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 2, 2011

Disaster strikes again
Wild wind lifts roof from Rock Road Chapel

By Zach Simeone

KNOX — As storms pounded northeastern New York late last week, winds swept through the Hilltowns with such force that a portion of Rock Road Chapel’s roof was ripped from the structure, nails and all, as it folded up like an accordion and was dumped in the grass on the other side of the building.

“The wind sounded just like a locomotive,” Pastor Jay Francis told The Enterprise. “We had a window open, and it started banging the doors,” he said of the experience from his home, just down the hill from the church. A piece of his barn’s roof was blown off as well.

The roof came off at about 3 a.m. last Friday morning, Francis said. According to National Grid, a series of storms that morning caused more than 18,000 homes and businesses to lose power in the company’s eastern New York service area.

“They say that lightning doesn’t strike twice, but I guess it did this time,” Francis said as he walked towards the crumpled remains of the roof. “It’s hard to believe; we just dedicated the building last June.”

The original church, built in 1979, stood on Rock Road for nearly 30 years before it was destroyed in a fire on June 28, 2008, and the congregation celebrated its re-opening last summer. The newer building includes a sanctuary that seats 500, a kitchen and dining room that can fit 100, and boasts a series technological upgrades, including a sound system that allows for recordings of church services. It was designed to be accessible to people with disabilities, is fully air-conditioned, and provides access to Wi-Fi.

The cost of the damages has yet to be determined, Francis said this week, though he hopes that insurance will cover most of the rebuilding expenses.

“It’ll be several thousands of dollars worth of damage,” he said.

A blue tarp now covers half of the roof on the part of the building closest to Rock Road, where Francis has his office. The light fixtures in the ceiling were fried, along with one of his computers, he said.

“Water was coming down through everything, and the rug got soaked,” Francis said. “We’ve got fans running up in the attic; we took all the insulation out and there was water on top of the Sheetrock, so we took towels and tried to dry it. I hope the Sheetrock’s going to be all right. We’ll see.”

The last roof was put on the building by Ashley Construction Services; this time, Francis said, the church will employ Giles Roofing and Construction for the job.

“We’re going to put the same kind of roof on because it’s the best kind of roof,” he said. “It’ll probably take two to four weeks to get the roof, because it’s a special standing-seam roof.”

But the roof damage will not affect church services, as the sanctuary is still fully intact and protected from the elements.

“We’re OK,” Francis said with a confident nod. “Everybody’s just glad no one was hurt. We’ll just have to pick up the pieces and go on.”

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