Child Care Center Bounces Back From Tornado - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Child Care Center Bounces Back From Tornado

Deborah Barksdale Deborah Barksdale

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A daycare took a direct hit from a tornado that ripped through the city 10 years ago.

About 100 children and staff huddled inside Grace M. Eaton Child Care Center on Pearl Street.

"Look at the building. God took care of us, kept us safe," said Deborah Barksdale.

Barksdale and her staff did all they could to protect the children at the facility.

A tornado hit the building. It caused massive damage as they huddled inside.

Barksdale said she remembers the storm like it was yesterday.

"We were just truly blessed," said Barksdale, who was administrator at the facility 10 years ago.

"We don't have any hurt children," she told NewsChannel 5 at the time. "I thank Jesus for keeping us safe."

Today, she barely remembers talking to the news crew. But with her energy in the aftermath she made quite an impression

"I was watching and saw the wind coming and I said everyone get back to the hallway and just in the nick of time," she said.

She said just then glass blew from the windows. She said she wasn't cut and the children were okay.

"This is something I had never seen before, but I had to be strong for everybody else," she said.

She now works at Nashville Christian Towers, but she'll never forget April 16, 1998.

"We had an awesome staff at that time," she said.

The staff kept cool despite the destruction. The tornado demolished much of the day care.

Mahalia Howard now runs the day care. After the storm, she said, it took six months to rebuild the building.

"It's all fixed up," she said. "We're back in shape and running as usual."

They care for roughly dozens of children each day from infants to 5-year-olds.

There were more than 100 in the building when the tornado hit. Barksdale recently watched the tape and remembered ushering them all out. No one was hurt.

"MIracles happen every day," she said. "I believe in miracles. I'm a living witness to a miracle," she said.

The facility opened 81 years ago. Today, there are no signs the tornado hit except the absence of the big trees that once stood outside.

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