Helena-West Helena hit hard by winds, damaging historic church

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HELENA -WEST HELENA, Ark. — Storms moved through Helena-West Helena, Arkansas overnight, pushing down trees, cutting power and damaging a historic church.

Mayor Kevin Smith said several people were trapped inside homes, and trees were down across power lines all over town. The hospital had to go on generator power.

Early Monday morning, strong winds knocked over most of the front wall of the Centennial Church and blew off the roof. The Centennial Church was built in 1905, making it one of the oldest black churches in the country.

“For me personally, that was something that really hurts,” Smith said

There have been efforts over the years to restore this church that has been vacant for years. About 20 years ago, one group added iron supports to the sanctuary. It’s believed that is the reason the rest of the building is still standing.

The mayor said that the latest group to take over restoration efforts just started in the last six months to try to save the incredible structure. It will take millions to restore the building.

Two buildings on Main Street also collapsed and there are down trees and power lines all over the area.

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