The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

May 25, 2013

Tornado upon them, quick choices decided fate


Not long after reaching the house, her weather alert radio sounded. She woke her husband.

The man next door had invited them to use his underground shelter. Scott Evenson handed Macie over the chain-link fence and headed across the street with his wife to gather as many neighbors as they could.

By then, his mother, his sister's boyfriend and their 8-month old son had arrived. Their home had nearly been hit by Sunday's tornadoes, and they decided it would be safer here.

When they finally made it to the shelter, Scott Evenson noticed that one family had brought their two dogs, and he decided to go back for his. Odie, a 4-year-old pit bull mix, and Sammy, a 5-year-old dachshund, were both pound puppies.

The dogs were frantic. Each time Evenson got close, a loud noise would send them fleeing in the other direction.

How much longer could he do this? After a couple of minutes, he gave up and went outside. Pausing on the deck, he looked at the jungle gym they'd just bought for Macie from Craigslist. Swinging on it was her favorite thing in the world.

He'd just decided to make one last effort to corral the dogs when he looked up and saw a mass of mud, branches and leaves swirling his way. Hustling to the cellar door, he yanked it shut and shouted: "We're going to lose it all."

Macie cried as her ears popped under the intense pressure. Scott Evenson hung on a nylon rope to keep the door shut as his wife huddled with the others in silent prayer.

When the danger was over, it took the group several minutes to free themselves. A 10-foot sycamore bough had fallen across the shelter door.

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