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Church Damaged In Derecho Finally Gets A New Steeple

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Jessica Kartalija 3 Jessica Kartalija
Jessica Kartalija joined the Eyewitness News team during the summer of...
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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — It’s been two years since the derecho swept through our region, damaging buildings—including a Montgomery County church. It’s finally getting a new steeple.

Jessica Kartalija has the details.

For many, it was a divine sight. The steeple for Holy Redeemer Catholic Church raised into the sky, seemingly to the heavens, and returning to the spot it stood for 50 years.

“Our neighbor called and said `They are putting the steeple back up this morning’ and that was so exciting so I came over and filmed it,” said Linda Eaton.

Several residents of this tight-knit Kensington community came out to see the spectacle. It’s been 21 months since the derecho brought down the church’s steeple and damaged part of the roof.

Lynn Cantwell remembers that June 2012 evening well.

“It was rough. We all walked around the neighborhood assessing the damage and one of the things we noticed was that the Holy Redeemer steeple had fallen onto the ground,” Cantwell said.

It was a long and expensive process getting to this day. Parishioners raised half a million dollars for the repairs.

“Everyone was like, `Oh, when will the new one go up?’ But you can’t just go to Wal-Mart and get a new one. It’s a long process,” said Father Mark Hughes.

Once the plans were set, it took crews three days to prepare for the hoisting of the steeple and all day to get the 4,000 pound copper structure secured at the top.

It was a long wait but well worth it for people like Linda Eaton, who got married here decades ago.

“It’s such a gorgeous church and to see this go back up after it wasn’t there for so long,” she said.

All of the children that attend school at the church were able to touch the steeple before it was put in place.

The exterior of the steeple is copper but the interior is aluminum and project managers say it could help the church withstand another derecho in the future.

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