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Kentucky minister and wife survive catastrophic tornado by hiding in church closet: "I realized it might be my last few moments of my life"

Kentucky minister on how he survived tornado
Minister in Mayfield, Kentucky, says he took shelter in basement closet to survive catastrophic tornado 06:25

A Kentucky minister survived a catastrophic tornado in the hard-hit city of Mayfield by taking shelter with his wife in the basement closet of their church — much of which turned into rubble during a deadly storm over the weekend.

The Reverend Joey Reed, a minister at Mayfield First United Methodist Church, described that harrowing experience and the storm's impact on the community in an interview with "CBS Mornings" on Monday.

"I realized it might be my last few moments of my life on this earth and I was very glad to be with my wife," he said. "I know her prayer and mine was that we'd be spared. I was afraid for my children, what would happen to them and how they would respond to this."

When Reed and his wife emerged from the basement, they saw much of the church crumbled around them. Some of the walls and much of the ceiling came down, spreading bricks and metal all over the site. 

"The devastation around us is incredible," Reed said.

"Thanks be to God the parts of the building that came down didn't come down on us," he said. 

The historic tornado outbreak killed dozens of people as it swept across several Midwestern and Southern states late Friday night into Saturday. The twisters leveled many communities, trapped numerous people and left a path of devastation across the region.

Mayfield, a tight-knit community of about 10,000 people, was one of the most affected. But the damage did not stop Sunday's planned church service, Reed said, as his and another congregation joined forces to worship together. 

He was also glad that he will still be able to lead the service at his daughter's wedding, which is scheduled for March in Tennessee.

"And that's about all I could think about in that closet when the tornado was going over. Please, lord, let me make it so I can see my little girl married," Reed said.

"All I care about is the fact that the most valuable possessions in my life, my wife's life and my children, they're all safe, and everything else is replaceable," he said. 

Reed said that the Mayfield church where marriages, baptisms and funerals were held over the years was physically damaged, but he said the memories made there would remain strong.

"That building was the repository of our memories, and we have to remember that those memories still belong to us," he said. "They cannot be taken from us by something even as devastating as this tornado."

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