(TMU) — As a fierce tornado was bearing down on the Mississippi home of Andrew Phillips, he urgently told his wife and two children that they should seek refuge inside a so-called “safe room” made entirely from concrete blocks.
The fateful move likely saved the entire family’s life, as the tornado destroyed the entire home—literally leaving only the concrete room intact.
The cinder-block structure, which was about the size of closet, was left standing and entirely shielded Phillips, his wife Amber, and his two children—aged two and six months—from any injury.
The family had been watching an online Easter Sunday church service as the weather around their rural town in Moss, Mississippi, began to grow more volatile, Daily Mail reported.
This is why it’s so important to have a safe room. Pics from Andrew Phillips. Glad they are ok! pic.twitter.com/zVSWnbXEZ5
— Nic Hurst (@ALStormChaser) April 13, 2020
It was at that point that Phillips, a volunteer firefighter, had the life-saving foresight to begin tracking the weather online and tune into a live fire radio broadcast.
As the twister began to approach, Phillips rushed his family to the safe room. He then quickly ducked outside where he witnessed the approaching funnel cloud, after which he retrieved as many bedroom pillows as he could before joining his family and shielding them with his body.
Within a brief moment, the house was entirely ripped asunder.
“I was in there about 20 seconds when it hit … The house is gone, everything but the safe room.”
When they finally emerged unscathed from the concrete room, they witnessed their home reduced to piles of debris strewn across the lot where it once stood.
Likewise, neighboring structures including a meat processing business on the same block were also ripped down to their foundations.
These tornadoes were BAD. This is from my sister’s live. I don’t own this. I’m not selling it. Please do not contact me about using it. I’m not giving out her name. I just want people to know what’s going on in the South. #Mississippi #tornado pic.twitter.com/ERgtiOoIIG
— He Who Bakes When Angry (@theori) April 13, 2020
Phillips told the Associated Press that one of the main reasons why they purchased the home only weeks prior was because it had the safe room.
“I’m just going to let the insurance handle it and trust in the good Lord.”
The deadly tornadoes that ripped across at least six states in the U.S. south claimed about 34 lives as of Tuesday.
According to the National Weather Service, preliminary estimates count at least 27 twister across the region—the strongest of which was an EF-4 that cut a devastating swathe across southeastern Mississippi with winds reaching a staggering 170 miles (273 km) per hour.
Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged or utterly destroyed while flooding caused by heavy rain also left a trail of destruction across parts of the region.
Following the catastrophe, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeve declared a state of emergency. On Monday, he stated:
“This is not how anyone wants to celebrate Easter Sunday.
As we reflect on the death and resurrection on this Easter Sunday, we have faith that we will all rise together.
To the people of Mississippi, know that you are not alone. The state and our first responders are working around the clock and will not rest until this is over. We are mobilizing all resources available to protect our people and their property.”
The recovery efforts have been complicated by partial shutdowns in the region and social distancing guidelines meant to curb the novel coronavirus pandemic.
This is the F4 tornado that decimated our small community in SOSO Mississippi yesterday. 11 people died in the storms that wrecked havoc on our state yesterday. Please pray for Mississippi. #PrayForMississippi pic.twitter.com/Mbh9eL4LeQ
— RedState_RedNeck (@WeThePeopleMS) April 13, 2020
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