NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A local congregation worries their more than 100-year-old church may not be structurally sound after a close call with a train. Looking for help, they reached out to the FOX 8 Defenders.
“I was up here preaching, and when it happened I was scared and I stepped back and that’s when I fell,” said Rev. Royal Neville with Mt. Pilgrim Baptist.
Neville said it shook the entire church.
“It was very scary, it was very scary,” Neville said. “The ground shook so bad, so violently until I fell backwards, and a couple of other people fell down also.”
When they walked outside their New Orleans East church on Old Gentilly Road to see what happened, they found a derailed train car. It narrowly missed a truck and came within yards of the 15 people inside for their Sunday afternoon worship service.
The train didn’t hit the church, but members worry the derailment still caused damage to the old building that was restored after Hurricane Katrina.
“That’s my biggest fear, that it might collapse,” said Neville.
The pastor said he has called an inspector to come take a look.
“I’d like the railroad to fix this out here and see if anything is wrong on the inside and to fix it,” said Neville.
We reached out to CSX about this story. In a statement, the company said: “On Sunday, January 6, 2019, a CSX train derailed a loaded freight car transporting paper onto Old Gentilly Road near our rail yard in New Orleans. CSX crews safely moved the car into the yard and normal train service has resumed. The cause of the incident remains under review. CSX appreciates the patience of our neighbors as we work to fully restore this area.”