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Preschoolers singing 'Jesus Loves Me' walk away unharmed after tornado rips roof off church

'We just blocked out anything else that was going on'

Image source: WPSD-TV video screenshot

Dozens of preschoolers at a Kentucky church day care hunkered down in a safe room and began singing, "Jesus Loves Me," as the eye of an EF-2 tornado ripped through the building last week.

Moments later, the children and staffers at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Paducah walked out unscathed, the West Kentucky Star reported.

The church's roof was gone, the sanctuary destroyed and the nursery was collapsed, but all 40 children and 10 staffers survived without injury.

What are the details?

Day care Director Michelle Rushing received a tornado notification at about 9:10 a.m. March 14, according to the West Kentucky Star.

Rushing said she promptly activated the day care's safety plan and guided everyone into the building's innermost room.

Soon, the power went out and the children became frightened.

Ten minutes later, the tornado hit.

In an effort to keep the kids calm, staffers began singing songs with them including "Jesus Loves Me" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."

"We were singing with the kids. We just blocked out anything else that was going on and was occupied with making sure the kids were safe," day care teacher Toni Mathis told WPSD-TV.

The staffers and children left the safe room and found it was the only undamaged portion of the building.

Rushing and others at the church credited God for keeping everyone safe.

"I think it didn't really hit me until about 10 minutes after the tornado, after I left here, that — what could have happened, and why God was on our side, and why he was even with us moments leading up to the tornado," Mathis said, according to WPSD.

Was anyone injured in the storm's path?

Only one minor injury was reported across the county, according to authorities.

"The almighty hand of God has provided safety to our community," McCracken County Sheriff Matt Carter told the West Kentucky Star. "The destruction path is approximately five miles long. There are approximately three homes that are devastated but no injuries, and also there is approximately a half-dozen other homes that have sustained minor to moderate damage. This could have been an extremely high fatality rate, and we're very fortunate and blessed to only report that one minor injury."

More than 5,300 residents lost power in the storm's wake.

In nearby Ballard County, there were no reported injuries, officials said. However, two homes and six barns were destroyed. And flying debris injured several cattle that ended up having to be put down.

One last thing…
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