Concrete ‘safe room’ saves Mississippi family from deadly tornado
New York Daily News, The (NY)
He said it was “the worst few minutes” of his young family’s life.
Volunteer firefighter Andrew Phillips had been tracking a twister online and over a fire radio Sunday afternoon when he realized it was aiming straight for his family’s rural home in Moss, Mississippi.
He told his wife Amber to grab their two young sons, ages 2u00bd and 7 months, and “hunker down” in their new home’s “safe room,” a small closet made of concrete blocks.
The split-second decision saved their lives, he told the Daily News in a phone interview Monday.
“Right after she had them in the safe room, I looked off the porch and could see it and hear it coming,” he said. “I went to our bedroom to get more pillows, and by the time I got back to the safe room, it hit.”
He said he used his body to brace against the door and shield his family.
“I have no idea how fast the winds were, but it felt like 200 miles per hour. When it was over us, it sounded like a big Army helicopter just roaring down on us,” Phillips, 29, told The News.
The safe room was the only thing left standing once the storm passed.
“If we took cover in our tub, we wouldn’t be here. It’s mangled up in the debris,” he said.
Phillips said before the twister, his family was “worried” about the coronavirus. It’s a little different now.
“We were afraid before, but now I’m more thankful to hug someone. If I can hug you right now, it means we’re alive,” he told The News.
Phillips said he was grateful for the help and well wishes his family was receiving.
“It’s hard looking at the devastation, going through everything. It’s just unreal. But people are helping us pick up the pieces,” the proprietor of a deer processing company called The Meat Hook said.
His family survived without a scratch, and he’s placing his faith in God and his insurance policy going forward.
“The safe room and the good lord above saved us. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t’ be here,” he said. “The only way forward is to come back bigger, better and stronger.”
The tornado that ripped through Moss was part of a series of storms that barreled through several southern states Sunday into Monday, claiming at least 30 lives.