Allie Spillyards

Straight Line Winds Leaves Trail of Damage in Downtown Greenville

There were no immediate reports of injuries from the Wednesday afternoon storm

A severe storm struck Greenville, causing widespread tree and roof damage, but The National Weather Service determined damage was caused by straight line winds, not a tornado.

On Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service released the following statement:

"Our survey team is continuing to investigate damage in Hunt Co. For the town of Greenville proper, our team found that damage was caused by straight-line winds (likely a rear-flank downdraft). Peak winds of 85 MPH were determined."

As the storm rolled through Greenville just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, the 20 or so people inside Highland Terrace Baptist Church hunkered down as the sanctuary's roof was ripped off.

"Within three seconds we heard a loud boom and the roof here was taken off and deposited in that Sunday school class probably 30 feet from us," said Wynema Payne.

Payne was among those gathered early for choir practice. Just 15 minutes later, Pastor Chet Haney says the church would've been filled with people for Wednesday night fellowship. He says the room impaled by the sanctuary's roof would've been filled with children.

"[The damage] is pretty extensive but not to the church because the church is not a building. Our church is fine but our building is hit pretty hard," said Chet Haney.

As roofers worked to patch the sanctuary before a second round of storms moved in, people nearly a mile and a half away were cleaning up debris downtown where several buildings lost their roofs and windows and power lines went down.

"All we heard was the wind blowing really bad, and I saw things flying. We got that warning that there was a tornado, but we didn't think it was true because nothing like that really happens here," said Leticia Gillespie.

No injuries were reported but the cleanup could take several days.

"We're going to be fine and I know we'll have a lot of people praying for us and a lot of help in the days to come," said Haney.

Wednesday night several people remain without power.

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