Pastor praises quick thinking staff for safely evacuating partially collapsed church

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A partial collapse of a church in Kansas City's Old Northeast sent dozens scrambling Thursday morning, including 44 children.

At about 10:30 a.m., a large portion on the back of Rios De Agua Viva church collapsed, but quick thinking staff members jumped into action and nobody was hurt. Pastor Hermino Leal was fighting back tears when talking about the way his staff reacted in a dangerous situation.

"I'm very proud of my staff, they take very mature, take the kids right away outside, they did the right thing," Pastor Leal said.

Many of the staff members returned to the site Thursday afternoon to look at the damage. For Vashti Sanchez, it was tough.

"It hasn't hit me yet, but then there's certain times when it does. I grew up in this church, I slept in those benches, under the benches," explained Sanchez.

It's still too early to say whether or not the church can be salvaged and rebuilt, or if the remaining part of the building needs to come down.

"We have the insurance working already for the building, so I just want to say everything is okay, everything is fine, and thank God for that," said Pastor Leal.

Testing will be done on materials inside the building to see if anything hazardous, like asbestos, is present. That's a concern for first responders who ran into the building shortly after the collapse. They wanted to make sure everyone was out.

Five Kansas City, Mo. police officers went to North Kansas City Hospital as a precaution. They went through decontamination before getting checked out in the emergency room.

Chris Stackhouse is the supervisor of security and safety at North Kansas City Hospital. He explained the decontamination process.

"They'll come inside and be derobed to reduce more than half the contaminations on the patient, then they're showered using a mild soap and redressed, then taken inside for treatment." Said Stackhouse

Hospital officials couldn't comment on the condition of the officers, but KCPD Chief Darryl Forte did tweet that all five of his officers went through decontamination, then were treated and released and told to take the rest of the day off.

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