Preschool reopens after tornado ripped off roof

KY daycare reopens after tornado

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY (KFVS) - The preschool at a church that was damaged by a tornado in McCracken County, Kentucky, reopened on Monday, March 25.

A daycare director who is credited with saving the children in the preschool, said some of the moms got together and bought necklaces for the staff. She said they also brought the staff breakfast on Monday morning.

Some moms of the children saved during the McCracken County tornado bought necklaces for the daycare staff. (Source: Michelle Rushing)
Some moms of the children saved during the McCracken County tornado bought necklaces for the daycare staff. (Source: Michelle Rushing)

Michelle Rushing, the church’s daycare director, laughed off people calling her a hero and said she was just doing her job and trying to keep the kids safe.

We are told the Mt. Zion preschool reopening is being deemed “The Miracle at Mt. Zion.”

On Thursday morning, March 14, officials say children were in a church preschool when a tornado ripped off a portion of the roof.

Thankfully, they say 39 children and several adults got out safely and no one was injured.

According to the National Weather Service, Mt. Zion Baptist Church had much of the roof structure of the sanctuary blown off, as well as part of a second story exterior wall.

The Mt. Zion Baptist Church was damaged in the tornado on Thursday morning. (Source: Kelsey Anderson/KFVS)
The Mt. Zion Baptist Church was damaged in the tornado on Thursday morning. (Source: Kelsey Anderson/KFVS)

After the storms passed, Mt. Zion Baptist Church became the command center for emergency personnel. This area appeared to have been the most damaged.

Dr. Wes Conner, Chief Pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, said they were still calculating the total costs it will take to repair the damaged roof and replace other property.

Dozens of people helped patch up the church’s worship center which was still used on Sunday for services.

Conner said he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the local community and beyond.

“We have had offers from the Kentucky Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Team, and they actually have a team that does tarping," Conner said. “We will most likely be in touch with them concerning what we might not be able to do and so all of these things are going to be happening in the next few days."

We talked to a sheriff’s deputy who said he was parked in the church parking lot when the tornado hit and flipped his car.

This deputy's patrol vehicle was rolled over and damaged in the tornado. (Source: Kelsey Anderson/KFVS)
This deputy's patrol vehicle was rolled over and damaged in the tornado. (Source: Kelsey Anderson/KFVS)

“At one point, I just saw the wind and all the trees started picking up. And the power lines coming out of the ground, then it just hits my car, turned it on its side and broke all the windows,” McCracken County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Wilcutt said. “Then debris just started slamming off the side of my car.”

The officer was able to get out of the car and make his way into the church.

He was not injured.

Just down the road, a grain bin blew off of its foundation and wrapped around a Cape Girardeau man’s truck on Highway 62. He made it out with just minor injuries.

Tornado damage at Mt. Zion Baptist Church In West Paducah. The tornado also wrapped a grain bin around a truck driving from Cape Girardeau. Driver had just minor injuries.

Posted by Carly O'Keefe KFVS on Thursday, March 14, 2019

The McCracken County judge executive issued a State of Emergency for McCracken County. The National Weather Service said a preliminary report showed EF2 tornado damage in western Kentucky.

Winds whipped through the area into the evening, sending debris flying across the fields and yards.

We talked to several people right after the tornado came through and they said it’s something they will never forget.

“Yeah, I’ve never been hit by Mother Nature like this, was definitely the closest call for me.”

“There’s nothing you can do, I mean, you are helpless.”

“Hopefully it doesn’t hit us and surprisingly, it went right around us.”

“It all happened so quick.”

Roofs were torn off, vehicles flipped over, windows broken, power lines down and tree uprooted. That was the scene in western McCracken County.

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