My story is quite long, but here goes. It was March 22, 2005. I had no warning of what was headed for my home. I didn’t know that coming from behind me was an F2 tornado. It had traveled across the lower east side of Alabama before coming across the river into the lower end of Georgia . I was told there were actually 3 running along side one another. Just a few miles from my home two of them joined.
My home was a 1977 doublewide trailor. I was at home with my son, 19 at that time. I let up a few windows because I wanted the fresh air to sweep throughout the house. I noticed some dark clouds coming up, the wind was just a smooth breeze at this time. I looked at the wall clock and noticed it was 1:00 p.m..
I went into the kitchen and was getting a cup of coffee when I was hit with a strange smell. I then went to look out the window, didn’t really notice much, but that smell was very strange. It was the smell of isolation, like being near an old house or building being torn down. Still, I wasn’t sure what to think. All of a sudden the wind was raging, I felt a fear I’d never felt in my life. Unsure of what was happening, what came to my mind was to just sit down on the floor.
I had a view of the front and back yard, in a split second my husband’s shop in the back yard went flying over a car, the noise came and got extremely loud. As I was getting to my feet, I caught a glimpse of one of Papa’s cows fly by a window! I turned toward the hall and started running, only I wasn’t going anywhere! I had a foot on each side of my doublewide as it started to go up and down and come apart. At that moment, the sound was like a jet flying a few feet above me, and the sonic boom seem to explode my home.
I never made it to my son. I fell forward, screaming, and I was out. Just before I screamed, I glanced at the wall clock, it was 1:15 . When I came to, I was laying face down in the field behind our house, only my house was completely gone.
I lost my glasses so seeing was so hard, I managed to sit up. I had no pain, but I couldn’t hear anything. I called out to Papa, but nothing. I thought of my son, and as if in slow motion I looked around and got a bearing of where I was.
I saw a small white thing moving back and forth, with no hesitation I got up and started walking towards it. When I got there I realized it was my son’s foot. He had on his socks and was moving his foot. I noticed that he was trapped under the frame of my house. He was also laying face down. I couldn’t move it. I patted him on his back and told him to be calm. I looked back towards Papa’s house. I told my son he was on his way and he would get us help. At this time I began to feel weak. I told him I was going to lay down.
Somehow, I ended up laying so close to him the people who came assumed we both landed there. All I knew was I slid as close as I could in order to hold his hand. When Papa made it to us I was unable to open my eyes. I heard my son ask him if mom was okay, then Papa said “I don’t think so little man.”
Time sort of stood still. I had to focus on my breathing now because I felt something was wrong with my chest. I know I was in and out several times. I began praying, first all I could think to say was “God forgive me.” In my head, I repeated that over and over. Then I noticed it was getting very difficult to breath. The thought in my mind then was “God don’t let my son be near me when I die.” That’s when I began to say that prayer…get him out soon and away from me.
At some point my oldest son got there. That was an overwhelming moment. I could tell he was running towards us because his screams got louder and louder. When he made it to my side he was begging, “please don’t tell me my mama is dead” he repeated it several times. He must have bent down near me because the EMT told him not to touch me. The EMT asked me if I could give my sons a ‘thumbs-up’ and I did. I wanted to look at him and tell him not to be afraid, but nothing would work.
They soon had my younger son freed from this trap. He was placed on a backboard, then my turn came. Up until then I still had no pain, but as they turned me it hit. I began to moan and tried screaming. It was awful, I wanted to remain still and quiet, but I had no control. They put us both in the same ambulance. I remember my son telling me not to cry or scream, but like I said, I had no control.
Next thing I knew we were at the ER. At this time I had no idea where they had taken my son. I only knew the pain was so unbearable. My own physician was on call, as were two others whom had been called in. I remember bits and pieces and begging for pain relief. I heard the doctors say “she needs chest tubes her lungs have collapsed,” at this time my doctor softly tells me he is going to put the tubes in. I felt the blade, then a pop, then I was out.
The next time I came to, I had been in a coma for 9 days. I woke up in CCU. Hands strapped to the bed. I had been put on a respirator. So many things went on during that stay. I learned that I had indeed nearly died, and I was told of my injuries. Eight broken ribs, front and back. Two concussions, one was open, so eleven staples closed it. Something had punctured the roof of my mouth. I had a broken clavicle that was also pulled apart by an inch. Several deep cuts. But…what really surprised me was being told I had a broken piece of a 2×4 in my hip! Several muscles in my hip, thigh, and pelvic area were divided.
So, now this brings us to now, October 16, 2008. Most of my injuries have recovered nicely. But, needless to say the muscle injuries and my hip have healed, but are damaged. Some severely, but with the help of my pain management physician, we have made an amazing management plan. I am limited in daily routines around my new home, my grand kids, and our young daughter, but, my life is good. The most amazing thing about this is my son was spared injury! He had some torn ligaments in the upper torso form the weight of the frame, they had him in the hospital over night for observation then was sent home the next day.
When I have bad days I wish for a way to ‘fix’ the damaged muscles but, what can be done right? So, in ending, I want to say, thanks for letting me tell my story and for your reading it.