The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

May 25, 2013

Tornado upon them, quick choices decided fate

(Continued)

Now, Cindy Sasnett was petrified.

She called her husband, and he told her it looked as if the storm might turn away from their home. But she couldn't get over her feelings of unease.

She was looking to another source for guidance.

"God, it's here," she prayed. "What do I do, Lord?"

She raced into their bedroom, where she kept her mother's ashes. As she stood in the doorway, a little voice said, "No. Go." She ran to a closet, then to a hallway, and confronted the same whisperings.

Suddenly, she heard the television announcer say that the tornado was heading for her area, and that no one without a shelter could survive. She grabbed the children and said, "Come on, babies. We're going."

Dirt and bits of leaf pelted the 50-year-old grandmother as she strapped Jack and Cade into their car seats. Cade looked up and pointed.

"Look," he shouted. "Tornado!" Jack joined in.

She slammed the SUV into gear and raced up the street ahead. Glancing over her shoulder, her eyes clouded with tears, she thought how strange it would be to survive the storm, only to die in a car crash.

Now, Jim was her guide, on the cell phone. Watching the storm's progress on TV at work, he told her to head toward Sunnylane Road, turn right, then go south.

Cindy circled until the radio announcer said it was safe for Moore residents to return. When she got back to the house, every room in which she'd considered taking shelter was demolished.

A couple of hours later, Rob Willis came staggering up the street. He wrapped her in a bear hug and thanked her again and again for saving his only child.

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