ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An Albany woman and her young family survived last month's deadly tornado, after it ripped apart her home at Paradise Village in
East Dougherty County, a neighborhood that was virtually wiped away. All that remained of Lindsey Hill's home was a child's favorite stuffed animal and her mother's shadow box.
"We have had so much support, people helping us, we kinda haven't had a chance to be down," said Lindsey Hill, a cook at the Waffle House on Westover Blvd. in Albany and Lee County.
Waffle House jumped in immediately to fill-in the gaps, putting her family in a hotel, and now moving them into a temporary home as they get back on their feet.
After ten years of offering friendly service to her customers, Hill's smile is unwavering.
"She is a special person. She always nice, she always has a smile on her face. Everybody has a bad day, but you can never tell with her," said Mark Lund, a regular Waffle House customer.
Hill had a very bad day on January 22, when a tornado packing killer 150 mile-per-hour winds hit her home on Holly Drive.
"As soon as I put the mattress up to the window in the bathroom where we were, it is like our trailer blew up," said Hill.
Inside, Lindsey's two young daughters, age 5 and 7, remained in the tub, the mattress protecting them from the swirling debris, but her disabled mother was tossed out the back of the trailer and survived.
Lindsey was knocked out, and she was hospitalized for her injuries.
Along with the damage to the trailer, a tree in the yard smashed her car.
"The only thing that was left was the bathroom in-tact to the trailer, and the tub where my kids were," said Hill.
Before January 22, things had been looking up for Lindsey's family.
Lindsey's mother, who has been ill for several years, walked to the mailbox for the first time in a long time, "We were doing good, really good, you know. Everything in our house had just gotten paid off. And, here comes Mother Nature."
Even the force of Mother Nature wasn't strong enough to break her spirit.
"They know how much I love my job. Just being here, it is my second home," said Hill.
"We were wanting to give her some time off. She was like, 'I want to come in, I miss everybody.' ," said Krystal Pickett, a Waffle House Recruiter who rushed to Hill's hospital bed after the storm. "The customer's love her, we love her, she is just great."
"I will probably retire from Waffle House. They have been, they have been just that much of a family to me. As much as my own," said Hill. "I am the head of my household, so I was the one doing everything, making sure everybody is ok. Now, I have a whole group of people making sure I am ok. It feels really good."
Waffle House provided hotels for all of their employees who were without power or impacted by both January storms, and Waffle House employees from across the country have been offering help to South Georgia in many different ways, including sending clothes and traveling to Albany to fill in shifts.
The company also had employees bringing food and hot coffee to first-responders, volunteers, and residents across the city after both storms.
Hill's store manager, the first call she made when she came back to consciousness, immediately drove to Hill's family's aid, and has since started a Go Fund Me account for Hill's family.
Hill's devoted customers are also helping her family, finding furniture and clothing for them.
"I never knew it. I never knew it was, I guess, me just working here has had an impact on people. And the support they have given me, it just makes me feel so warm," Hill said.
Find out how you can donate by visiting the Go Fund Me page here.