Nightly News   |  May 24, 2011

From lucky survivors, a vow to rebuild

Amid all the destruction, sadness and shock in Joplin, MO, there are also minor miracles --like the one that graced the small Baptist Church that served as a safe haven for 15 people during the storm. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it is true. walk anywhere in joplin, missouri, these days and you find usually in this order -- destruction, sadness, shock, and daily minor miracles like we found today when we came upon ale small baptist church and when we arrived they had just come across a great find. where did you find it?

>> some guys found it up there.

>> what are the chances of that?

>> sitting right on the pew.

>> holy cow . well, if nothing better happens in this whole thing, that's got to mean something.

>> it does.

>> this tornado changed the views you can get of joplin, missouri, the vistas as you look out here have gone back to the 1800s before these buildings went up in the first place. walking around this town it remind you of the fairy tale . structures made of stone and brick survived largely while those made of wood went down. brick structures including this church. we ran into the man who did this original brickwork.

>> i have bricked it twice. we had a fire 14 years ago.

>> you did a great job.

>> well, thank you. that's what i did. i feel like the lord watched over us. got down in that basement. you could hear the debris, the glass flying down the hallway.

>> people's ears were popping because of the change in pressure.

>> it made my ears hurt.

>> yeah. the pastor showed us the church basement that functioned as a bunker as the tornado went overhead.

>> got some water here.

>> and kept people alive. 15 people rode out the storm in here.

>> they held the door shut. they came here because there are no windows, no access to the outside.

>> he kept repeating the church is wherever they gather and not just any one structure.

>> this is a shell we worship in. i'm thankful we had no loss of life to this point.

>> not surprisingly, the youngest con gre gants tend to be the most hopeful about rebuilding.

>> it's just unbelievable.

>> what are you going to do for a church now?

>> probably go have church there.

>> i tell you what, we're all lucky. we survived it. we didn't even get a finger cut.

>> this can't be your first tornado all your life.

>> here?

>> yeah.

>> that's what i told my wife. you're scared to death but i have been married to her 58 years.

>> you're just starting out together?

>> yeah.

>> again, listen closely. it's 90% faith and attitude when life and nature leave you with