ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — A St. Pete community is hard at work dealing with the aftermath of an EF-1 tornado. Crews are cutting down trees and clearing the debris along 9th Avenue North near 55th Street North.
Crews are making significant progress out at All Children’s Academy, which saw extensive damage from the severe weather.
“I think God’s hand was in all of this, and I think he protected each and every one of us and that’s our Christmas blessing,” said Susan Sanders, the director of All Children’s Academy.
The National Weather Service said winds reached 100 mph — strong enough to cause a massive tree to uproot and crash onto the roof of the preschool.
“It was a very large, large thump,” Sanders said.
She said herself, several teachers, and 33 kids were inside at the time. Photos from inside the classroom show branches that pierced through the ceiling.
“The teachers did a phenomenal job and making sure that everyone was safe and protected and got them out quickly,” she said.
Once the debris is cleaned up, the next step will be to make sure the building is structurally sound before bringing kids back. In the meantime, they’re now at another preschool for the time being.
“When you look at it, just thinking and knowing everybody got out safely, it’s okay,” she said. “It’s a building that could be fixed and the children are safe, and the staff is safe and I think that’s what you have to look at.”
Around the corner, Mike Weston wasted no time clearing out his debris.
“It just moved along,” he said. “It left some homes intact and it just like danced around.”
A tree branch fell on his roof and the strong winds pushed in his garage door.
The City of St. Pete said residents can request a debris pick-up. It’s free.