STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The National Weather Service in Mobile confirmed that an EF-1 tornado touched down in Stone County Sunday afternoon. The twister tore through one home and damaged three other houses in McHenry.
The destroyed home on Pine Avenue belongs to the Bardwell family. The family of four hid in a closet as the tornado roared overhead.
"People said when they saw the roof go, they saw the debris go up into the tornado," said Brice Bardwell of McHenry.
Looking at the ruins of his house Monday, it's amazing how Bardwell and his family narrowly escaped the tornado's wrath. Around 4:00 Sunday afternoon, Bardwell was watching the Saints game in the living room. His wife and one-year-old son were in a bedroom.
"We heard the winds pick up. I went to the front door and I went to look out and I couldn't open the door. I see stuff start flying," said Bardwell.
They quickly ran into the master bedroom, where his four-year-old daughter was taking a nap.
"I grabbed her and as I was running into the closet, I heard the glass start breaking and my ears started popping. I felt the pressure you know as soon as I got in and shut the door," said Bardwell. "It just sounded like a train running right over your house and you heard just boards flying, kind of like an explosion when the roof took off."
Bardwell said his immediate thoughts were on his family's safety.
"I just asked God please let me and my little girl get in there and get the door shut," he said. "I never got time to get scared. It happened so fast and after it was all over was when my wife really started screaming."
And when they opened the closet door, they were shocked at what had happened to their three-year-old house. The torn-up roof allowed rain water and soaked insulation to come pouring down.
"I was just amazed of the damage that happened so fast you know. In 30 seconds, everything was destroyed," said Bardwell.
Outside, debris was scattered throughout the yard. Some pieces of his house even landed in other people's yards about a mile away. One oak tree looked twisted, while several others were snapped in half. Bardwell said it's a miracle all four of them made it out alive.
"We survived without a scratch and that's just a blessing from God and that's the only thing that matters," he said.
As he looked at his house, Bardwell said, "This is all materials. It can be rebuilt."
The American Red Cross helped the Bardwells with temporary lodging at a Wiggins hotel. The family does have insurance and they plan to rebuild. Friends and even strangers have been dropping by the house to offer them a place to stay.