Car saves couple from tornado - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Car saves couple from tornado

February 17, 2003

Mitchell County - A South Georgia couple barely survives a tornado. Mitchell County tornado victim, James Harper, says, "Started out the door. She started to go back to call my Mom, we didn't have time I don't think." Seconds later their trailer was sucked up and pulled apart by strong winds.

The tornado that hit Southwest Georgia Sunday morning damaged at least a dozen homes in Mitchell and Grady Counties. No major injuries, but one couple's home was torn to pieces by powerful winds.

The husband was watching WALB when he found out the tornado was just outside their home. A split second decision saved their lives.

James and Eileen Harper sift through the rubble, "A bunch of sheets and towels here." They are trying to salvage what they can.

A tornado sucked up their trailer and spit out their belongings. Mr. Harper points to bare ground, "It was sitting on this block, this was the front corner. So, it moved it that far."

Their bedspread now decorates the tree top, blinds dangle from limbs and their couch two to three miles down the road. He says he heard all the tin and metal clinking together.

The Harpers' were living in the trailer in front of another home they were renovating. He says, "I looked up, trailer was gone. It picked up house, twisted it around moved it 10 feet and set it back down."

Seconds before both homes were hit, Mr. Harper grabbed his wife and got out. They took cover between the car and the trailer. He explains, "It lifted the car and set car on top of us, 20 to 30 seconds it was all over."

Both suffered minor bruises from the car landing over them, but they believe that saved their lives. He picks up a shirt and asks his wife, "Do you want to save this?" Now they must decide what they need to save.

They have insurance on the car and motorcycle, but not on the homes. They plan to clean up and start all over again.

The Harper family is staying with family in Pelham. Both of their employers, Mitchell EMC and Englehard are pitching in to help.

posted at 5:25PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com

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