EF2 Tornado Flattens Ohio Church (VIDEO)

By Corinne Rose

November 19, 2013 Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 7:28 PM EDT

CLOVERDALE, Ohio (21Alive) -- A small village in Ohio lost one of its most important structures to a tornado Sunday.

But residents aren't letting the storm win the battle.

"Jump over the parish center and take out the church and the priest house, the rectory, and it was just completely leveled. It's just amazing what kind of force there is," says Cloverdale resident Don Schnipke.

The fury of the EF2 tornado that ripped apart Saint Barbara's church, rectory and other homes in Cloverdale, Ohio Sunday has met its match in the determination of the village's 350-residents.

Parishioners are picking up the little that's left of Saint Barbara's, which was founded here in 1898. This church was built in 1958.

"My children, even, who don't live around here, were just in tears because they were all baptized here, got married here and everything, so lots and lots of memories, that's for sure," says resident Marilyn Wannemacher.

Some people call Barbara the patron saint of thunderstorms.

Interesting, since the only part of the church left standing contained still-lit votive candles.

"Father lit, on All Saints' Day, five candles for the people who passed away. Ironically, those candles stayed in front of the St. Joseph altar, where everything else was destroyed. So that's kind of unbelievable," Wannemacher says.

Crews have been able to salvage some pews and kneelers. Even the sacrament and tabernacle were found intact and were retrieved from the rubble. As for the rest of it?

"A lot of them, they want some kind of memento. And they'll come in and take several bricks and things like that and take them along home so that they have a remembrance," Schnipke says.

The parishioners at St. Barbara's hope to hold mass on Sunday. Obviously, they can't do it in the church. They're going to do it next door in the parish hall. Considering how long it will take to rebuild, they could be having masses there for at least a year.

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