4/30/2014 6:00:00 AM Whitehead survives tornado in basement with family, neighbors
Tami Whitehead carefully walks over the remains of her parentsí home in the Jordan Circle neighborhood after a tornado destroyed it Monday. Whitehead, her parents and their neighbors were trapped in a basement for a couple of hours.
By DEBBIE BURT MYERS AND STEVEN THOMAS
Tami Whitehead, her family and her two neighbors were trapped in a basement for several hours after a tornado passed over her home.
Whitehead had been taking care of her parents for the past eight weeks in their home on Jordan Circle.
After watching the weather on television all day, she told her parents to pack a bag and their medicine and get into the basement. She also got her neighbors to join them.
They were in the basement for an hour before seeing a Facebook post about the twister being just down the road from them.
"I said: 'Ya'll get ready,'" she said, noting they got up in a crawl space under the house from the basement.
While taking shelter, Whitehead looked through a vent at the bottom of her house and saw the tornado coming towards them.
"I said: 'Ya'll get up in here it's here.'"
As it passed, Whitehead recalled feeling like her ears were popping and hearing trees popping. When it was right over the home there was a loud, continuous booming and shaking, she said.
After it passed, Whitehead made her way to the door of the basement and was able to see it continue on its path of destruction.
The group remained trapped in the basement a couple of hours before they were able to free themselves.
"After we got out we heard someone yell, 'There's another one coming!'" Whitehead said. "We started getting into cars and headed to First Baptist Church [in Louisville] because of their basement."
The church, she said, put them up in a nearby hotel for the night.
Despite having insurance, Whitehead is unsure of the future, citing another tornado that went over the home in 2008.
"This is tornado alley right here," she said. "I'm not sure if I can do it again."
Cory and Liz Blackwell thanked Whitehead, their neighbor, for their safety after she urged them to take shelter in her basement from the tornado. The couple has a small son, Ryan.
The twister destroyed their home, taking off the roof and flattening several rooms.
"We would've been in the [hallway] bathroom if she hadn't come got us," Liz Blackwell said. "I think it would've pulled us through the roof. We're glad we were over there."
Blackwell also said she was unsure if they would rebuild.
No one was injured.
16 people survive tornado in Winston Medical Clinic
Dedra Burt was working at Winston Medical Clinic on east Main Street in Louisville when the tornado struck.
The clinic was destroyed.
"It was horrible," she said. "Fourteen employees and patients were all in a cubby hole off the hall about the size of a small bathroom. We could hear it coming. It sounded just like a train. The whole building started shaking. The roof fell in all areas except the space we were in."
Burt said the group stayed in the clinic until they started smelling gas.
"We got out," she said.
Burt said her truck was picked up and dropped in the nearby woods with another truck on top of it.
There are cars on top of cars everywhere, she said.
"There are air conditioning units off buildings and in yards everywhere," she said. "I am just glad to be alive. I feel so badly for all the people here. It looks like a war zone. There is nothing where houses were originally. An auto shop is gone."
She said the nearby Winston hospital sustained severe damage.
"They were working with what they had to work with," she said. "You could see the ambulances coming in."
Myers survives tornado in car with six grandchildren
Hilda Myers, a resident of Road 181 in Neshoba County, was at home with six of her grandchildren when the tornado passed over.
They gathered some pillows and sought shelter in a car in the garage.
Myers said they saw the tornado and ran to the car.
Her home was severely damaged. Several trees fell atop the roof of the house.
"We were in the car with our heads covered with pillows," she said, noting they could see trees falling through the windows. One landed on the garage.
A section of her roof was blown away and parts of the house were flooded.
Myers noted that they got into the car as the tornado struck.
As Myers gathered her grandchildren to take them to a safer area Monday afternoon, another tornado warning alert was heard, scaring the children.
Near Myers' home was her sister, Helen Allday, who got into a closet when the tornado hit.
Damage to her house was minimal with only a small area with bent tin. Several large trees were blown down in her yard.