Northeast Philly Church Partially Collapses

Northeast Philly Church Partially Collapses

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Northeast Philadelphia -

The rough weather early Friday took a heavy toll on an historic church on the Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philly.

One wall partially collapsed, and that section of the building may be too damaged to repair.

There's a lot of history at the Harold O. Davis Memorial Baptist Church -- nearly a century's worth. But with age comes problems.

Inspectors believe a leaky roof caused the heavy rain to seep between the inner and outer walls, severely weakening a portion of the facade.

People inside said the building shook.

"How do you describe a tremble if it ain't a earthquake?" Dorsey Mitchell, the vice principal of the school, described to FOX 29. "I think it was more on a scale of one to 10, I think maybe it was like a six, seven."

No one was inside the sanctuary at the time of the collapse. Services are held Sunday mornings.

But down in the basement, the church runs a daycare and school for young children.

The kids might have thought Santa and his reindeer had just landed on their roof. After all, they were in the middle of their annual Christmas party, which turned into a kind of sidewalk cafe.

"Brought pizza for the party, and we're out here, like tailgating, like a Christmas tailgate, Pollyanna tailgate party," Shaa Ellison, the mother of a child, told FOX 29.

Thankfully, no one was injured outside where the wall collapsed or inside during the evacuation.

"Everybody was safe, everybody got out," Ellison said. "They handled it real professionally. It wasn't a lot of chaos. And everybody was nice and calm."

Inspectors determined the side of the church that holds the sanctuary survived intact. But the other side the building is now off limits; it's too unsafe for anyone.

And that raises questions about the immediate future of the school.

"We're not sure yet," Bishop Kirby Newkirk said. "We don't know the severity of the damage. And so, until the engineer gives us a complete report, we don't even have an estimate as to what we need to do."

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