WESTERN, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– When Bill Miller’s wife called him from the gym to make sure the deck umbrella was down, he didn’t think much of it, until he heard it.
“You know you could see the winds starting to pick up and I called for the dogs to get in the basement, we got down in the basement, and probably 40 seconds to a minute later this is what happened,” Miller said.
The tornado had torn through the small town creating a path of damage along the way, and the town’s fire chief, Mike Anania, said luckily no one was injured, but it was a scary moment nonetheless.
“There was a guy getting fuel at one of the gas pumps when the tornado came through and he was literally holding on to the pumps so that he didn’t get blown away,” Anania said.
One of the hardest-hit buildings was the two-century-old Westernville Presbyterian Church.
“So the tornado came through and it picked up the steeple and spun it and turned it straight down into the sedition you can see right behind us and the steeple poked through the roof of the new addition three feet and then it exploded,” said Church Board President, Will Olney.
The church has been standing strong since 1818 and this was the first storm that has ever caused significant damage, but luckily the church bell was still intact after it came crashing down through the steeple.
“It’s pretty devastating, it’s upsetting, you know the community is instrumental in keeping this church going, but we’re going to get together and we’re going to rebuild it,” Olney said.
He added that they’ll come back stronger than ever and make it another 200 years with the help of the community who was already rallying behind one another to help fix the damage.