95-year-old tornado survivor recalls frightening moments

95-year-old tornado survivor recalls frightening moments
Johnnie Mathis was hiding in her home alone just feet away from her next-door neighbors, who were thrown 50 feet from their house. (Source: WALB)
Johnnie Mathis was hiding in her home alone just feet away from her next-door neighbors, who were thrown 50 feet from their house. (Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
Johnnie Mathis (Source: WALB)
Johnnie Mathis (Source: WALB)
Dougherty County Commissioner, Anthony Jones (Source: WALB)
Dougherty County Commissioner, Anthony Jones (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A 95-year-old Albany woman whose home was in the direct path of the January 22 tornado shared her miraculous story of survival.

Johnnie Mathis was hiding in her home alone just feet away from her next-door neighbors, who were thrown 50 feet from their house.

Now in her new home, she remembers those frightening moments.

"I could've got killed. But God saved me," Mathis said.

Every morning, Johnnie Mathis thanks God for the new roof she has over her head.

"He saved my soul. He saved me, put me in a new place, made me study more about him," she added.

It was cozy inside of the house, but outside, a harsh reminder of the deadly tornado.

"It hit the house and got hit next, and then it went on got Betty them next and it scattered everything," Mathis explained.

A year later, Betty and Calvin Hamilton, are taking it one day at a time after their home was also reduced to rubble.

"We've just been blessed and thank God to be alive, that's all," Betty remarked.

Mathis even recalled Calvin clinging onto her to keep the wind from blowing her away.

"The storm didn't last but five minutes. Five minutes it was gone," Mathis added.

As his constituent, Dougherty County Commissioner Anthony Jones made it his business to continually check on her and hundreds more.

"It won't ever be the same and Ms. Johnnie B, she's back in, she's got a new home," Jones explained.

But others are still recovering from the mile-wide path of the tornado near Harris Road.

"The January 22 storms, so as you can see he's still trying to get back in," Jones added.

He said seeing the contractors working were signs of a resilient community that's determined to pick up the pieces.

"We see a lot of scars here. This is what the millennium handed us," Jones remarked.

With more than 50 percent of Dougherty County residents affected, the recovery is a long one.

"A lot of folks didn't have ample enough insurance, and they're still in the process to get back into the ballgame," Jones added.

As for Ms. Mathis, she's ready for whatever life throws at her and she said it's all thanks to God.

"Oh I'm crazy about my new place," Mathis remarked.

Ms. Johnnie Mathis moved into her new home the week of Thanksgiving, 10 months after the tornado.

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