Blessings through the storm, church rebuilds after it was destroyed in last year’s tornadoes

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MARSHALL COUNTY, Miss.-- Nearly a year after deadly tornadoes tore through the Mid-South one small community, Chulahoma, outside of Holly Springs, is rebuilding in Marshall County.

"The church is a home. It's a pillar of the community," said Calvin Powers as he looked around his newly rebuilt church Monday afternoon.

Last year, on December 23, that home was lost.

Hours after tornadoes touched down, WREG's Shay Arthur spoke to Calvin Powers, a deacon at Chulahoma Missionary Baptist Church. The roof of his house of worship was blown off, what remained of the inside, hardly salvageable.

Despite the rain on Monday, the lights shined bright once again.

"You can see everything is new, new pews, a new pulpit, new furniture, we even have new monitors on the wall we didn't have before," said Powers.

The congregation of a few hundred is now preparing for Christmas celebrations. Celebrations they didn't have last year. Powers showed WREG around the newly remodeled building.

"All these are classrooms."

Repairs have cost upwards of $700,000 and while it's taken months to rebuild, the church is once again bringing happiness to the community.

"Joy in their hearts. For one moment, an hour, two hours, everything that happened before was forgotten," explained Powers.

Clara Jones, a member of the congregation, feels the love.

"I'm a blessed child. I praise the lord everyday, morning, noon and night!" exclaimed Clara Jones.

Jones was inside her Chulahoma home when the storm hit. She did her best to take cover but was thrown hundreds of feet into nearby trees. Wearing a back brace and boot WREG's Shay Artur talked to her hours after she was released from the hospital last year.

"I was just up there prayin and cryin, prayin and crying," said Jones back in December.

On Monday she has mostly recovered and has a new home.

"I got a three bedroom single trailer," she said with a smile.

While the storm might have physically broken the buildings apart, today it's clear, through the strength and regrowth of the Chulahoma Church and residence of Clara Jones it also brought people together.

"That was my motto, it's a blessing in the storm," said Powers.

The church says it now plans to give back and wants to teach the community about preparing for natural disasters, like tornadoes.

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