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May 11, 2014

Coxey family survives roof being ripped from home

‘Leaving it in God’s hands’

— Meatloaf still sits on the stove where it was left to cool, a glass of sweet tea by the recliner. Both serve as reminders of a Coxey family’s life before April 28.

The Barron family remembers that evening all too well.

“We saw it coming from the front porch,” Candy Barron said. “We thought it was going to pass over, but I said, ‘No, y’all, this dark cloud keeps getting closer and closer to us. It’s coming here.’”

Candy’s husband Bill, just home from work, was dozing in his recliner.

Family friend Brandon Baldwin was also at the Barron home. He didn’t want to be alone at his apartment with the threat of tornadoes lingering.

Candy was cooking dinner and watching the weather. “They said, ‘Coxey,’” Candy said. That’s when she turned to her family and said, “We’re Coxey.”

In that moment, Bill was wide-awake.

The family peered through the windows at the front of their home, located on Seven Mile Post Road.

“It was in the shape of a ‘V’,” said Austin Hall, Candy’s 15-year-old son. “And it was dark green.”

Candy and youngest son Patrick, 10, got in the tub in the hall bathroom. Bill, Brandon and Austin continued to look out the window.

“I saw what looked like a sheet of water come over and then I started seeing debris,” Bill said.  “That’s when we hit the bathroom.”

Five people piled in the small hallway bathroom.

Candy and Patrick started calling out to God. “He and I were doing some praying,” Candy said.

“Patrick wasn’t praying,” Bill added. “He was preaching. It would have been a three-page sermon.”

Brandon and Austin stood beside each other in front of the bathtub hanging on to Patrick and Candy. Bill used himself as a shield to cover everyone beneath him.

“He was hovering over all of us to protect us,” Candy said. 

In less than 30 seconds it was over. “It was really windy and you could hear rain,” Austin said. “Then it calmed down.”

But, it wasn’t over.

“I think there were two, or that was the front edge of it,” Bill said.  “It shook the house and then it got really quiet. Like, deathly quite. It was just too eerie.”

And then the family heard it coming.

“It didn’t sound like a freight train,” Candy said. “It sounded like the low roaring of a diesel engine coming by. It got louder and louder and louder.”

Bill got anxious. “God, if you’re going to take someone, take me. Leave my family,” he prayed

He remembers a calmness coming over him that is hard to explain. “I wasn’t scared,” Bill said. “I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t worried.”

The family braced, again. “The house literally shook,” Candy said. “The bathtub shook. I thought the back wall was going to come out with me and my son in the tub.”

“You could feel the house twisting and shaking and that’s when the roof went,” Bill added. 

He didn’t see the roof go. No one inside is sure they heard it either. They remember crashing sounds, the internal sound of their ears popping.

After the pressure in the home changed, Bill looked up and saw the roof gone.  “I knew that shouldn’t have happened,” he said.

Reality set in when Bill and Candy realized the tornado could have sucked everyone up  from the tub and to who knows where.

When rain started to fall, Bill was sure the worst had passed. He opened the bathroom door to find what was left. Debris was everywhere. Pictures had fallen from the walls and furniture was out of place.

What seemed odd to the family was the clear path from the bathroom to the front door. “We could get out,” Candy said.

They made it to the front door when they realized trees were down everywhere.

“But nothing was on our car and the driveway wasn’t covered,” Candy said. “We could get to safety.”

Candy believes God was watching over her family. “I know that was God,” she said. “If people don’t believe in God after seeing this, knowing we were inside and that there was a direct path for us out that door to safety. How can people not believe?”

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