Father, son survived tornado: 'I had to save him,' dad says
Brian Poe and son, Tanner, 15, took cover in a ditch Wednesday as a tornado swept through Apison, Tennessee.
April 30th, 2011
08:47 PM ET

Father, son survived tornado: 'I had to save him,' dad says

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.

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Filed under: Alabama • Tennessee • Tornadoes • U.S. • Weather
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. B 4 they say it

    Thank goodness they are allright,this horrible.I hope everyone in surrounding area is fine.

    April 30, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • bam

      trailer parks kill people not guns

      May 1, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      If you are camping, the same thing holds true: find a ditch. Hopefully it won't be filled with water. Figure out where land features are before a storm, just as you would figure out where exits are in a house.

      May 1, 2011 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
    • YesitsSarcasm

      This is just another free-loading family of trailer trash living on gubberment benefits and now ready to hold their hands out for more. They shouldn't go looking for help. Let them pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. What didnt kill them should make them stronger. Others have lost stuff in tornados and it didn't kill them. Now these pwt will be on welfare for the rest of their lives, and their kids too. Using up all my tax dollars. Why was he on the couch sleeping like a lazy dog instead of evacuating while he had the chance? I say it's his own fault. He should have built a sturdier house. His son should have been at the library studying. Now both will claim some mysterious ptsd trauma and try to get a crazy check. I'm tired of these trailer types living off me. Every time there's a tornado they go right back out and buy another flimsy trailer with their insurance money. I bet they do it and pray for tornados just so they can get some gubberment money. When will these types ever learn? Now, does this sound familiar to anyone? If this was a family of color, or an immigrant family, this is exactly what you hillbillies would be sayin

      May 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • myke

      not for nothing yesits, but I did notice in the article where it said a tree fell on him hurting his back then got lifted off too. just sayin'

      May 1, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just Be Glad It Wasn't You

      He's glad he's alive, and several of his family members died in the storm. Their combined weight, and possibly even the tree, helped them survive the tornado. Most students use the Internet for homework, and a lot of community libraries aren't open at that time of night. What's wrong with relaxing in the evening? I'm glad they're okay, and I want my taxes to go towards helping U.S. citizens in need.

      May 1, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • tornadoally

      Why do people live in these states where they have tornadoes all the time? And in mobile homes non the less . I don't get it .

      May 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sunshine Girl *

    @B lo me...Hi! I sure hope your ok. I know your from Tennessee and I hadnt heard from you since last w/e and I was begining to get a little worried something may have happened. At least let me know your ok. /// Sorry off topic but hes my blog friend.And I hope he wasnt hit by the storm. I feel so terrible for those people.I live in West Texas and I thought all these fires here were bad. Nothing in comparison to the south really. The earth is self destructing quickly.

    April 30, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • HOO HA

      No sunshine girl, the Earth isn't "self destructing" quickly, but your brain sure is.

      May 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mamabear

    Prayers are going up! God Bless everyone that has been touched by these horrible storms!

    April 30, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neal

      I wish some god had thought to bless there people before they had to go through this.

      May 1, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
    • reply to Neal

      Neal, the body is already condemned to die, it does not matter how or when, it will die. A blessing can never outweight the predestine command of God. i.e. "it is appointed to man one to die". A blessing would then be temporary and not related to the sole protection and preservation of life but rather dependent upon ones perspective of a quality of life not necesseraly giving sole protection from appointed death. I feel blessed to have family, but at some point given in time they all will die.

      May 1, 2011 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. angel

    what is "michael jackson" on? really?

    April 30, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Quincey9

    As long as they're alive and OK nothing else really matters. Everything else is just 'stuff'.

    April 30, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • maria

      But I still feel so bad for them because it seems (from the video) they lost at least 4 relatives. How horrible.

      April 30, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cyndyoa

    Thank God they survive and my prayers goes out to everyone else that was touch by this storm. Amen.

    April 30, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JT

    So what? They were all poor to begin with..

    April 30, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Really? Troll........

      May 1, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • stonedwhitetrash

      Yes I lied it smelled bad.

      May 1, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Concerned

      No, YOU smell bad. And I'm signing off for good, so you can write whatever you want and I'll never, ever see it. See ya', sucker....

      May 1, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      The dad probably does work that you wrouldn't do. Have some respect. I am very sorry for the victims of this tragedy, and we can all at least send money to the Red Cross.

      May 1, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Biff

      Just another drunken loner with nothing better to do but to show people how much of a loser he is.

      May 1, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Funny thing is is I bet you didn't tell the majority of black victims to pull up their bootstraps when Katrina hit! O wait you will say you did because you are so self resilient and mighty! The single mother who never asks for help right?

      May 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      If you are going to insult people and claim racism can you at least act like you have an education and use spell check.

      May 1, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • tb

      Wow is only the beginning to express how pathetic, inhumane, and prejudice you are. You speak of the father having a job....the tornado hit at 8 pm maybe he has a 9-5 job....a 15 year old boy out at the library at 8pm wow really....he was doing what he needed to do...get prepared for school the next day....living off of your tax dollars....you and your family members at one point lived off of mine and others tax dollars whether it has been free lunch, Medicaid, headstart, public schools, so please be careful of throwing stones when you live in a glass house your self....oh learn how to spell or at least use spell check when your trying to embarrass someone nationally

      May 1, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • barbara

      excellent comment. don't you hate people like that? you get the thumbs up today. i can't believe anyone would bash these people. let's see them when someday they are in the same situation, i bet they wouldn't be able to handle it. the troll's are weak under pressure. that's why they like to pick on others.

      May 2, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • runner305

      Sarcasm or not, you definitely NEED some help

      May 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ed

    Great reaction & strategy in survival dealing with a potentially fatal horror. They're blessed and hope the dad's back will be OK. A real life touching story.

    April 30, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Qev


    May 1, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. banasy

    What a path of devastation these deadly storms have wreaked! These two are very lucky to have lived through this; I hope that the injuries suffered by Dad will be quickly healed.

    As for the disasters that befell other states, at the risk of once again being made fun of by the Troll King, my condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and their homes. My prayers are with you all.

    May 1, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. danielle

    Did that f***er really say So what they were poor anyway. What a sorry sob. take care everyone and remember u have our condolences

    May 1, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Such a person isn't serious, they're trolls; if they didn't care, they wouldn't write. I do hope that everybody votes to help others in need in America; this disaster illustrates how difficult it is to take shelter from the winds of life. God bless.

      May 1, 2011 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. Eva

    As someone who was stuck out in the open in the EF4 tornado in 2009 in Murfreesboro, I still don't think the videos quite capture the horror. You feel like you're a child's toy, being picked up and thrown around–it took two years for me to fully recover physically–and it feels like the whole world is falling apart around you. A close friend of mine was buried alive by debris. I feel really happy seeing survival stories. Please, NO TROLLS, if that's quite alright.

    May 1, 2011 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      I am glad you survived, and hope that you continue to heal.

      May 1, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
    • jack

      Unfortunately, trolls are a fact of life, just like tornadoes.

      May 1, 2011 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
  13. Cate'

    God bless and help all of the survivors.

    May 1, 2011 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joey

    @ banasy:
    I'm sure those who suffered and lost loved ones appreciate your condolences.
    I don't know why CNN will not, or cannot, monitor the comments and actually prevent abuse by not publishing comments from abusive E-MAIL ADDRESSES.
    CNN must make money based on the number of "names" they publish, not the number of computers or mobile phones that contribute.
    At this point, one person is destroying the use of this service for many others.

    May 1, 2011 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Jazzzzzzzz

      @ Bansay I cant remember who is was but the person suggested LUCIFER as the possible culprit for driving not only myself but Philip as well away.

      P.S. Banasy is it ok to friend you on FB ?

      May 1, 2011 at 4:26 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jenn

    Apison, the city where this story takes places, is only about 10 miles from me. These storms have devastated our area and the loss will be felt for a long time. It's awful to see what's happened, but uplifting stories like these are so needed in my community right now and so great to hear!

    May 1, 2011 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
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