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Gov. Shapiro working to help Washington County church impacted by weekend tornado

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Pa. — Gov. Shapiro says he is working to get help for the congregation of a Union Township church after an EF-2 tornado touched down in the area, ripping off the roof.

At the Crossroads Church, workers have installed new windows and are putting on a new roof, after it was ripped off during church services with nearly 100 people inside. Two days later, the pastor’s phone rang with a private number.

>> WATCH: Tornado touches ground in Washington County

“I answer and he goes, ‘Hello, this is Governor Shapiro,’ I said, ‘Oh wow, Gov. Shapiro, is this a prank call?’” said Ken Barner, Crossroads Ministry pastor.

PHOTOS: Severe storms bring hail, damage across Pittsburgh region

The governor retweeted a WPXI post about the tornado damage, adding that he wants these communities to know his administration has their back and they’ll do everything they can to help people recover.

“He offered his prayer and support, on behalf of him and his wife, he’s praying, he basically just listened and I thought it was very kind,” Barner said.

“Right after it occurred, on Monday, Governor Shapiro called, he wanted to know what was going on,” said County Commissioner Larry Maggi. “It was reassuring to know we haven’t been forgotten on this end of the state, glad he called and is attempting to help somewhat.”

>> Tornado hits Washington County church, damages roof while 100 people are inside

Drone 11 was over properties across the Finleyville area where the community came together instantly, neighbors working hard to help each other.

“Right after it occurred, on Monday, Governor Shapiro called, he wanted to know what was going on,” said County Commissioner Larry Maggi. “It was reassuring to know we haven’t been forgotten on this end of the state, glad he called and is attempting to help somewhat.”

The county did not declare a state of emergency, which is where any offers of help become tricky.

“It’s good and bad to be declared a state of emergency or federal or state disaster, had to reach an amount of damage. We didn’t reach that, although for the people it occurred to it was pretty catastrophic,” Maggi explained.

Pastor Ken told Channel 11 he’s grateful for the support coming from many directions and is hopeful they can open their doors on Sunday, and that the state will come through with additional support.

Whether that will be prayers, or also money, is still not clear. He’s grateful either way.

“Who wouldn’t want money? I’ll tell you what, God’s been taking care of us at the church. we are very thankful, our insurance is working well,” Barner said.

Channel 11 also talked to County Commissioner Electra Janis. She said they are working with other state leaders to plan a meeting about what can be done, which should be held in the next few days.

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