BRANDON, S.D. (KELO) — On an average Sunday, the Beaver Valley Lutheran Church in Brandon draws a crowd of around 140 attendees. Today, dozens of those congregants, as well as members of the community were on clean-up duty.
The result of the early Monday morning storm which swept the region, nearly the entire roof of the church’s educational and office unit is gone, and the roof of the fellowship hall has collapsed.
The historic structure of the church, around 100-years-old, stands strong, nearly untouched by the damage of the newer wing adjoining it.
Church Pastor Greg Johnson arrived at the church around 3 a.m. after learning of the damage, but says that in middle of the night, it was tough to understand the extent of the destruction. “As the sun started coming up, we saw that we had been hit really hard,” he said.
At this point, the assembled volunteers were working to clear tree debris from the property, which was about the extent of what could be done, as further cleanup cannot be done until the property has been instructed for insurance.
Despite the extensive damage, Johnson and Church Council President Bruce Bonander praise the response from the community. “Trouble really pulls people together,” commented Johnson.
“I’ve been a part of this congregation for years and years,” said Bonander. “I think I was 6-years-old when my parents joined here. It’s a great congregation and people really show up whenever anything’s ever needed.”
Johnson was quick to point out the broader community support as well. “I should say, it’s not just our members that are coming to help today,” he said. “They’re just people from the community and other churches — it’s really humbling for us to really realize how much this community cares.”
“Thank you for the people who come to help,” said Bonander. “Thank you for being here,” added Johnson.