MCFADDIN - Ten weeks after Hurricane Harvey struck, the iconic McFaddin Church stands on its foundation once again.
The storm blew the Infant Jesus of Prague Catholic Church about 15 feet off its foundation, making the church lean at a 30-degree angle.
"There was a lot of thinking it wasn't going to work, but that's not a question anymore, and it's coming together the way that we always imagined or hoped that it would," said Mitchell Morrissey, whose great-great-great grandfather, James Alfred McFaddin, built the church in December 1915. "This is really like best-case scenario out of what we were imagining."
Monday, crews with Clegg Services and Galveston-based McMillan Building Movers pulled the church back onto its foundation with construction vehicles chained to the structure. Crews put steal beams under the structure with Ivory soap between them so the church would slide back into position.
The rest of the week, the crew worked on structural repairs and strapping the structure to its foundation. They will work into next week.
The next step for the church is to hire a construction crew to do finishing exterior and interior repairs, Morrissey said.
Besides the 101-year-old church, most of the other historic buildings in McFaddin also were damaged. The church fared the worst.
"This recovery from after Hurricane Harvey, (the church) was our main focus. The building got so damaged structurally, we had to do something right away and put our other projects on the back burner a little bit," Morrissey said. "If we hadn't done something and acted right away, we would have lost the building completely."
Now that the church has returned to its foundation, the Mcfaddin Ranch family, as well as the Marianna-McFaddin Preservation Foundation, which Morrissey is executive director of, can focus on other projects, he said.
The nonprofit previously restored the church, which was blessed and reopened in summer 2015 after its doors were locked for 12 years.
The church served families in the area until regular services ended in the 1980s and later became a mission of Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Victoria, which held weekly services until the mid-1990s. In 2003, the structure was deemed unsafe after Hurricane Claudette hit.
About two weeks ago crews slowly lifted the structure inch by inch with pump jacks and air bags. When the church was about 4 feet off the ground, the crews started doing enough structural repairs so the church could be moved. The floors and walls were reinforced.
"We've really gotten past the first big hurdle of getting the structure back to where it needs to be," Morrissey said. "As we're progressing, we can sort of see this is now going to definitely work."
Morrissey's grandmother and president of the nonprofit, Sue Cannon, said she was delighted the church is now back in its right place, which shows hope for the town. When she saw the aftermath Harvey left in McFaddin, she felt awful, she said.
"The whole town looked terrible," she said. "Everything was battered."
Everyone who's been involved with repairing the church is impressed with the work that Clegg Services has done, Morrissey said.
"I know our nonprofit was amazed that this is going so well," he said.
John Clegg, owner of Clegg Services, said he was proud to have helped save a Crossroads historic building.
"It's interesting, and I like this kind of work," he said. "We have a bunch of good guys, and they all enjoy doing it, so it's satisfying that (the church is) back where it belongs."