Just minutes after school started at Skycrest Christian School, high winds whipped through the campus, overturning an empty school bus, ripping off aluminum awnings, downing trees and damaging about six parked cars. Amazingly, there were no injuries.
"We had just gotten them into the building after unloading the buses," said principal Richard Quarterson. "It just happened so quickly. If it had been a half-hour earlier, we would have had a tremendous problem."
The school, which is at Belcher Road and Drew Street, has 432 students in preschool through eighth grade.
Four classrooms and the gymnasium received water damage. Flying debris gouged two, 2-foot holes in the south side of the building over a covered walkway on the second floor. The rain spouting on the edge of a new concession stand also was ripped off.
By 10 a.m. almost all children had been picked up, and several parents were present to help with the cleanup. The school is expected to open today.
Staff members, who were in the middle of a prayer, said they heard a loud noise about 8:50 a.m. and looked out the window to see trees bending across the parking lot.
One mom, Theresa Reed, said she was on her way to a classroom when she saw shoes, aluminum siding and part of a tree fly by.
"It was pretty intense, and that doesn't even begin to describe how strong the wind was," she said. "I just froze. I had a sense that God was with me, but I was just shocked."