Gotta Watch: Tornado survival stories
Jamie Bell stands with his mother Marie Rich in what used to be his 2nd floor apartment after it was destroyed when a massive tornado passed through the town killing at least 116 people on May 24, 2011 in Joplin, Missouri.
May 26th, 2011
09:09 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Tornado survival stories

It's been a harrowing week in the Midwest. Tornadoes ravaged towns across the region, killing hundreds. But in the storms' wakes are true, fierce survival tales. You’ve gotta watch how survivors made it through the worst tornado in history.

Dog crates save woman – Dog crates save a woman’s life when a tornado passes over her home. As tornadic winds lifted the crates, she grabbed them for protection just as her home became rubble all around her.

Desk chair saves woman from tornado – A would-be author types away on her book when a tornado siren goes off. She soon sought shelter. But the wall she used for protection collapsed, leaving only a desk chair covering her as the storm completely leveled the neighborhood she’s worked in for 20 years.

Finding Roxie – A tornado barrels toward a family’s home. The family headed toward a safe room, but is unable to lure the family dog into it. Days later, the family reunites with the beloved pet just two miles from home.

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Filed under: Gotta Watch • Survivor Stories • Tornadoes • Weather
soundoff (30 Responses)

    GOSH ! I sure hope everything turns out ok for those in this area.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. @joey

    yes and we see what it has done to your brain. stupid is as stupid does.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |

    tacos is betterer : ) mmmmmmm tacos : )

    May 26, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dave

    Nice to see a city that after a natural disaster doesn't stand there with hands out and say hateful things about the President of the US blaming him for their plight. Hello New Orleans, take a lesson people.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • awful

      I don't see thousands stuck in a flooded shelter or flooded hospitals without food, water, facilites, there is better help there, and all roads in and out aren't blocked, in other words apples, oranges.

      May 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • trp48

      @ awful – The people of Joplin were given 20 minutes warning while the people of New Orleans were given days of warnings. So I guess you are right about the apples and oranges.

      May 26, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • cclowery

      That was a uneducated thing to say! First off, look at the aid that stated pouring in within minutes of this disaster compared to 5 days of starvation and death for Katrina victims. Your really stupid for saying something so rediculous!

      May 26, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • yellowjacket

      @ cclowery – it's ironic you call the other person uneducated when you think people starve to death in 5 days and you can't spell "ridiculous". that's all...

      May 26, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • I agree

      It's easy to clear debris from the road after a tornado. Not so easy to clear 4 foot or better of water to get to people in floods. It's always going to be slower aide to people in floods. Have to wait until the water receeds. So, lets not start blaming this on people not caring abou the people of New Orleans. Millions were raised and tons of supplies donated to help out N.O. Hopefully the same happens for people all over this coultry after these storms. This shouldn't be a debate about who this country cares more about. Let's just help out where we can and try to move on and rebuild people.

      May 26, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miked

      Dave, only a cheap soul, devoid of compassion, would use these poor peoples tragedies as an opportunity to put forward political views. Shame on you. Shame, shame, shame.

      May 26, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • David W

      I think he stated that the people in New Orleans had days to leave. Stupid of them to stay. Don't tell me they had no way out. If they didn't, then that is the State or City's fault.

      May 26, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JOE

    Blue skies, no red reign. (As in red states). But God bless them all. We shouldn't wait till there's a tragedy for us to remember that we're one nation under God. Yeah, God bless the United States of America and God bless the folkes in the midwest and may they all have a speedy recovery. That little girl hogging the family dog sure was touching. God bless them all.

    May 26, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • OklahomaGirl

      Thank you for your post. I am so tired of seeing all the negative comments about our states and these terrible storms that we have gone through. A lot of us only had time to pray that God would save us all. You can sure tell the ones that have been through a tornado and the ones that have not. To all those who have never been through a tornado, it is so loud. It sounds like a train. Therefore, some people that were killed or seriously hurt may not have had any warning. You don't always hear the sirens blaring. Example, my family and I were out shopping and never heard the sirens going off. It started to hail so we headed home. Just as we topped the hill, there it was an F-3 headed straight for us. We made it home in time to get to the shelter. It lifted up and went straight over my house. I know God had a hand in that. We were not hurt and our homes were still standing. You come to realize at times like these that the only things that really matter are God and Family.

      May 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chris

    Wonder why these people who live in areas of known weather problems dont build there houses underground. We have several underground homes in my town and the last tornado that came thru did no damage at all. Like at the beach they build thier houses on stilts. If you live in a place thats going to flood build your house above the flood line.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      agree. banks control that type of thing. they aren't thinking in terms of our safety, they are thinking in terms of their money. having said that, some of these areas are on rocks, or clay. seems like they could bury a culvert. Those missouri istorm shelters are nice. not sure how much they are, but i would like one. I think i'm going to go help my sister plant a culvert under her garden or something. doesn't feel safe at her house. they are all brick (arkansas), but wouldn't that just mean that brock will be flying everywhere??? what happens to brick houses in a tornado? how about poured walls? the hospital was probably poured walls??? would earthquake proof buildings help or do they actually do worse in a tornado? it would be good to know what works and what doesn't.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • NotAnymore

      In SW Missouri (where Joplin is located) there's very little topsoil atop a solid bed of limestone, so basements are pretty rare.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. anonymous

    YIKES...we were taught not to hide in refrigerators or freezers...evidently kids crawl in and suffocate. Dad just freaked when there was an empty freezer around.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • rafael

      They don't latch the way they used to. They use those magnety things now.

      May 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. anonymous

    it doesn't look like there's much left. scrap prices are up for metals. not sure about junk cars, but they are usually up when metals are up. computers, electronic stuff....maybe. too bad someone can't figure out how to make chips or pellets out of all of the wood there. might help people have a few dollars anyway.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      Habitat for Humanity ReStore might be able to take parts of houses that can be used.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Karen


    You may have the luxury of just building a house underground that some of us don't. These things are really rare but when they happen everyone has all these bright ideas all these people could have done to save themselves. Truth is it is what it is and very tragic. I am thinking of buying a storm shelter but will have to save to do it. Most people are like me and just can't go write a check on a whim!

    May 26, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ladyhawk

    God help those who lost loved ones in the tornado. The trama for those who survived will last a long time.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • rafael

      Too late for "God" to play much of a role, doncha think?

      May 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • OklahomaGirl

      Thank you Ladyhawk!! Rafael it's never too late for GOD!! He has a hand in everything that happens, good and bad. We may not like what happens, but we should always remember he's there with us no matter what. God Bless everyone that has been affected by the storms. You are in my prayers.

      May 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bringerofhalfilluminatedtruth

    Wow you people still find time to judge eachother when something as terrible as this happens. Ego is humanities greatest flaw.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nick

    So I take it the tornado took this gentlemans shirt.

    May 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • JusDav

      It took every damn thing he owned. He is standing on the ground. The article states he was on a SECOND floor apartment. Try and think for just a minute.... if he was on the second floor and now on the ground floor, he probably doesnt have a whole lot of shirts left... dont cha think??? Probably just happy he has his hat. More than likely he is happy just to have both arms and legs still attached. Nick, dont be a hater.

      May 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |

    To Dave:
    You are a moron. The reason natural disasters are handled more efficiently now is because of the horrific response after Katrina. and the lessons that were learned. Any natural disaster in our great country warrants empathy for its victims, we don't need haters like you spewing your ignorance.

    May 26, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1954

      Thank you Susan. It's amazing how some people will use any platform to attack, disgrace, or humiliate others. This story was about tornado survivors, not New Orleans. It's sad, but happens in the comments all the time.

      May 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. 移動電源

    Oh my god, the ppl below me are complete idiots. How could you say some thing that mean? Betcha you couldn't say it face to face to him, now, could ya? Didn't think so.? Ha. 移動電源

    June 21, 2013 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |