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May 1, 2014

‘The sky turned green:' Coxey family recounts Monday’s twister

Family of five lost everything but 1 vehicle

— Puffy white clouds drifted across a bright blue sky Wednesday afternoon, only 48 hours removed from a much different scene Monday evening when a deadly EF3 tornado blasted through Limestone County.

The Coxey community absorbed much of the storm’s ferocity, which destroyed an apartment complex, damaged two schools and leveled two mobile home parks along U.S. 72 West.

Tornado survivors are being funneled to the designated Red Cross shelter at Central Church of Christ in Athens. Displaced Lee-Hi resident Kristin Cohn, 25, sat in the church’s baby room Wednesday, cradling her 2-week-old son Orion and recounting being in the Clements Volunteer Fire Department safe room with her family of five and about 75 other people when the storm struck.

Kristin said the family arrived at the safe room at about 3 p.m. and waited out the storm with neighbors from Lee-Hi and Billy Barb’s Court, along with volunteer firefighters and their families.

All the Cohns carried with them was a diaper bag and two sets of clothing for the children, with the family losing everything after the storm except Kristin’s sedan. She said the next-door trailer had been picked up during the tornado and then landed on their two-bedroom trailer.

“We weren’t even going to leave the trailer park because we had a flat tire but my grandmother came and took us to the safe room,” said Kristin as her husband Osden, 25, tended to their 3-year-old son, Jaxson, and 1-year-old daughter, Anabala. “I still get chills thinking about it, and everyone was just crowded in together. My ears were popping and we could hear stuff hitting the building.”

Osden, an electrician’s helper who is scheduled to return to work next week, said the experience was similar to being on an eerie plane ride.

“The way I describe it is it was like taking off in a plane and you feel that same sensitivity,” Osden said. “The tornado was roaring like a train and before it hit, the sky just turned green.”

“It was like the devil came,” Kristin added.

Despite having to start from scratch again after saving enough money to move to the trailer park a month ago, the Osdens said they were grateful for the reassurance provided by the firefighters at the safe room and to have their family still intact.

The only items they are still searching for are family and wedding photos.

“We couldn’t find anything that was worth finding. We’re trying to find a wedding picture that everyone signed. The only thing we found was a white plaque with black lettering that says ‘Mr. and Mrs. (Cohn) live happily ever after,’” Kristin said. “I was devastated to know my stuff was gone especially for my kids because we had gone through a struggle before and had worked so hard to get everything we had.

“But the best thing people can do for us is pray. The only thing we want is help for our kids before they try to help us.”

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