BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Nearly three years ago, a string of deadly tornadoes tore through Bladen County leaving the Elizabethtown Baptist Church in shambles. Since then, the church has worked hard to rebuild, and now renovations are complete.
"When we first arrived on campus about five minutes after the tornado hit, it was complete devastation,” Chris Carroll, Elizabeth Baptist Church's minister said. “The buildings were nearly destroyed; we had lost a lot of trees. We've also lost a lot of the buildings, 80% of the buildings were destroyed."
Carroll says buildings were not the only things lost after the storm.
"There was a feeling of hopelessness," Carroll said. "There was a feeling that we will never be able to rebuild. How will we move forward?"
But that hopelessness quickly faded as community members came together to clean up debris, and rebuild.
"It was amazing to see how many people came within an hour and were cleaning out here so we could have church the next morning,” church member Tommy Hatcher recalled.
And now, less than three years after the tornado, the damaged buildings have been restored.
"There were a lot of tears, a lot of struggles. But today we celebrate for we are revitalized,” Carroll said. “This is the beginning of a new chapter in the life of Elizabethtown Baptist Church."
And both Carroll and Hatcher say they have one man to thank for the blessings they felt Sunday.
"It's all for the honor and glory of God to be a great witness for Jesus,” Hatcher said. “It's his and it is just a blessing that we utilize to get his word out."
Carroll says he is overjoyed to see how far the church has come, and he says he cannot wait to see what the future has in store.