Thanks to quick thinking, a father and son in Apison, Tennessee, survived a tornado that slammed the small town during the violent storms that ravaged the Southeast on Wednesday.
As the violent storm system barreled toward Brian Poe and other residents in a span of mobile homes, just after 8 o'clock, there was precious little time to act, he told CNN's Susan Candiotti.
“I was laying on the couch watching TV, about to sleep and my neighbor called me and told me: ‘It’s coming. Get out of the trailer. It’s coming.”
Poe said he stepped outside his mobile home, summoning his son, 15-year-old Tanner, just as the storm was bearing down on them.
The National Weather Service has confirmed an EF-4 tornado with winds of 174 mph tore through Catoosa County in northwestern Georgia and into southeastern Tennessee. The same tornado that hit Apison had also struck Ringgold, Georgia, about 15 miles to the south, leaving seven dead.
“I kind of walked out and I heard it coming,” Poe said. With raging winds around them, Brian and Tanner Poe darted to a roadside ditch.
“The only thing I could think of was my son … I had to save him,” Poe said.
The only thing the two could do was hold on for dear life, Tanner said.
“Me and Dad were hugging each other laying face down,” Tanner said. “[The storm] was lifting us off the ground." A tree fell on the pair, injuring Brian Poe's back "and the wind pulled it off of us,” Tanner said.
Wednesday was the deadliest day for tornadoes since a 1925 tornado outbreak that killed more than 700 people in seven states, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Saturday on its website.
Poe said he lost several family members in the storm, which has left thousands of people homeless and killed more than 300 people.