CAUGHT ON CAMERA: GA church struck by bolt of lightning
ELLIJAY, GA (WXIA) - You might call it divine intervention that spared a north Georgia church from the wrath of mother nature, after a huge bolt of lightning zapped the church and blew a hole into the side of the building. The moment was caught on a near-by security camera.
"We knew that wind obviously hadn't done this and obviously it had to be a lightning strike," Sr. Pastor Dan Rosser recalled from when he first spotted the damage Friday morning. "That is when we started inspecting what had happened here."
David Hayes told 11Alive he has a security camera set up at his business Hayes Manufacturing across the road from Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Ellijay. Hayes said he was scrubbing through video footage of severe weather that swept through the night before to get a feel for how bad the storm was.
As Hayes was looking over the video, he spotted something around the 3 a.m. mark that gave him a partial answer: the bright-white flash from a lightning bolt that pierced the outside of the church.
"I slowed it down and finally caught it at exactly the right moment," Hayes said. "Then I saw the lightning and I was like 'Oh my god, it struck the church."
Hayes was amazed the church didn't catch fire. The church's pastor agreed.
"My initial reaction was honestly just thinking how incredible it was, but also thankful that the church didn't burn," Rosser said.
But the strike did fry many of the church's electrical equipment. The elevator, computer, phones and sanctuary's A/V equipment were all knocked out of order. The strike also left a hole in the church's roof and sent exterior brick and other debris flying more than 30 feet into the air.
On Monday Rosser told 11Alive's Joe Henke he estimates that repairs will cost at least $25,000 to $30,000, but the church does have insurance to cover the expenses.
The good news is that most of the damage to the church building happened away from the sanctuary, so parishioners were still able to have services.