There are plenty of dramatic and heart-wrenching stories to come out of the record-breaking spate of tornadoes that swept through parts of the U.S. in April and May. But only a small subset of the victims survived one tornado only to be savaged by a 2nd one...
- An 11-year-old Iowa boy was home alone when 2 tornadoes tracked through his town of Lenox in mid-May. Instructed by phone, Austin Miller was told by his frantic mother to take shelter in their laundry room. He climbed inside the dryer and reported the damage around him from inside. "Mommy, there's glass breaking, it's loud crackling. It's loud and I think the house is going." She arrived home to find that the roof had been torn off, but her son had survived both twisters unscathed.
- When the University of Alabama ended the semester early because of the tornado that tore through Tuscaloosa, 20-year-old student Emily Fuller (3rd image) returned home to Joplin, Missouri. At school, she had lost one of her sorority sisters; at home, she was luckier. Taking refuge in a basement closet, Emily and her parents were uninjured and their house (2nd image, in a photo she took after the storm) - less than a mile from the town's most ravaged neighborhood (1st image, bird's eye view from 10,000') - was untouched.
- Mother and daughter Joyce and Janet Woods survived the April tornado in Alabama by sheltering in separate closets in their home as the walls came down around them. “I felt like I knew what to expect. So I just held on,” said Joyce. It wasn’t the 1st time they experienced the force of a tornado. They had both been present on March 27, 1994, when a tornado struck, killing more than 20 people inside Goshen United Methodist Church.
- After 2-year-old Ann Marie Garcia-Anara survived the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, during a visit with her grandparents, her mother Crystal picked her up to drive her back home to New Mexico. In Oklahoma, they were rattled by a 2nd twister. "We got on the road and not even 5 minutes [later] we heard, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown and it was the 5 tornadoes and we were surrounded by at least 4 of them. We felt our truck pulled back and be lifted, and our driver was flooring the vehicle and it was only going 3 miles per hour. Looking behind me...all I saw was pitch black and swirls and I said just floor it, just get us out of here. I just know I want to live each day as best as I can with her and do as much as I can to teach her everything I can in the short time that I have with her, because I don't know the next day she's not going to be here."
- Tom Cook and his daughter rode out the Joplin twister inside a tornado safe located inside their garage. Three years earlier on May 11th, they lost Tom's wife of 19 years to the tornado that destroyed their home near Racine, Wisconsin. He says, "...if you get through it once, you don't want to give it a chance again to get you. Although you just can't believe that this powerful of a storm can do this to you twice in three years."
- On April 27th, Kara Bovia survived a direct hit by the Tuscaloosa tornado that destroyed her apartment complex (video here) and killed several of its residents. It's the 2nd time the 26-year-old has lost her home. She survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “My goal in life is not to live through every kind of natural disaster. The 3rd time will not be a charm.”