Tornado survivors in Hattiesburg tell amazing storm stories

HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - Most anyone who's seen the tornado damage in the Hattiesburg area, has a similar reaction. Given the extent of destruction, they can't believe no one was killed.

There are some dramatic survivor stories on 21st Avenue North in Hattiesburg. That street is just two blocks north of Hardy Street and many of the homes there sustained significant storm damage.

"Looking at it now, it's amazing the power it had. But we're, not a scratch on us.  Everything we lost is just things and that's it," said a relieved Jennifer Creason, as she looked at her roofless home.

She admits to losing all track of time since last Sunday.

That's when the tornado ripped the roof off her home as she and her husband and pet dog were hunkered down inside.

"When we stood up and looked in the living room, the TV was face down. Things are everywhere. And all of a sudden looked in the dining room and looked up and was just looking at the sky," she recalled, "And I thought oh my God, oh my God, it's way worse than I even knew."

Monday's daylight revealed the extent of destruction up and down her street.

"It was just unbelievable. Unbelievable that no one was killed.  Very, very fortunate," said home owner, Linda Blaize.

The former Bay St. Louis resident counts herself among the fortunate ones. Her home sustained minor damage in comparison to neighbors.

Still, she'll never forget those frightening moments; pillows over her head, praying in the hallway.

"It was just zoom. It was moving so fast. But the roar of it was unbelievable. I've never been in anything like that before," she recalled.

"As quickly as it came up on us, it was over. I mean fast. Within 25 or 30 seconds," said Derrick Autmon.

During that half-a-minute, he crouched down between a door and a wall. That's when the violent storm dropped two giant pines in his living room.

"Growing up on the coast, I'm familiar with hurricanes and things like that. So, I'm very used to reacting and doing, after I get over the initial shock. It has been an incredible experience, but you have to move on. They're material things. And I'll start my second act," said Autmon.

All the tornado victims we talked with say they're grateful to the outpouring of help and support from volunteers.

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