Portland church to open doors after 2015 tornado

Inside the Portland United Methodist Church on Feb. 13, 2016.

PORTLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly eight months after an EF-1 tornado touched down in Portland, its residents have slowly been returning back to normalcy. Homes, businesses and churches were destroyed — but pretty soon, the Portland United Methodist Church will open its doors once again to churchgoers.

Less than 10 days before Tish Bowman was supposed to take over as the new pastor of the church, the storm hit. The church that has been standing on the same corner for more than a century had most of its roof blown off. Its stained glass windows were also shattered, and there was extensive water damage throughout its interior.

“I came over the next day to survey the damage and to start working with the congregation,” she said. “Figuring out how on earth does one even begin to put a church building back together?”

Bowman said the community quickly got together in an effort to rebuild and salvage what they could.

“People were arriving with food all over the place to feed the workers, and workers were showing up and saying, ‘What can we do?'”

All this time, the congregation of nearly 350 has been holding services down the street at the Portland Playhouse. But next weekend, they will return home.

There’s still minor work that needs to be done, but nothing significant enough to prevent the church from resuming services here once again. Bowman expects everything to be fully restored by spring. She said the church’s insurance policy covered all the costs — nearly a whopping million dollars.

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