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Buffalo, New York – At 8:14a.m. on Sunday, December 28th, parishioners at Corpus Christi were waiting for Mass to begin. Without warning, the church chandeliers began to sway and the organ pipes in the choir loft started to rattle, immediately followed by a deafening sound unlike anything the congregation had ever heard. Panicked worshipers feared a tornado or an earthquake. As it turned out, the din was the sound of hundreds of slate tiles being torn from the church roof in wind gusts that topped 75 mph. The ordeal lasted less than a minute. Miraculously no one was injured. The aftermath, however, leaves the congregation facing a serious challenge in these tough economic times. Elsewhere, the wind toppled trees, snapped power lines and left thousands across Western New York without power.
The area immediately surrounding the church has since been cleared of all debris. Emergency waterproofing of the roof is being completed by Weaver Roofing Company. However, this is only a temporary solution to cover the damaged sections of the roof. This interim measure will insure that the church interior is protected until work on a complete new roof can hopefully begin this spring.
Even before the storm damage, the parish had identified replacement of the 100-year-old slate roof as its top priority. A generous $450,000 grant from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund was announced last fall, following the church’s designation as a New York State Landmark and its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. However, the State award requires a dollar-for-dollar match before its funding is released. That means the parish must raise an additional $450,000 for the project to proceed.
To date, the parish has raised more than $200,000 toward that goal. More help is needed to secure the necessary funds for the roof project. [Read more…]