Your Letters: Mother was carried to help on a door by Beverly Clark

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(SUBMITTED) - I was 11 at the time of the tornado and lived on the other side of I-70 across from Burnett's Mound so we were one of the first to be hit by the tornado. The iconic photo which was ran nationwide of the old woman being carried on a door to help by a bunch of men is of my grandmother, Mary Lee Herndon and one of the men in the photo is my dad, Charles F. Clark.

My mother and my grandmother decided to go to Crew's auction the night of the tornado so when the tornado struck, my dad was in charge. My older brother had a friend over that night and when the sirens sounded, we headed to our next door neighbor's house which had a basement while ours did not. I remember the infamous Bill Kurtis warning on WIBW though I and my siblings were a bit irritated cause it had interrupted the new Charlie Brown special. My grandmother had had her color tv shipped from her home in central Missouri to our home and it had just arrived that day. It was our first experience with seeing shows in color! I did not and could not find my shoes, and I remember running all around the house looking for them while the sirens sounded. Finally my dad told me to just go barefoot and I ran pell mell to the neighbors. The sky was a sickly green color and the neighbor's tv was blaring. Neighbors from two doors down came to join us at my next door neighbors home too and we all watched and listened to the TV while the men were downstairs in the basement moving a pool table to the corner so we would have something heavy to cover us when the storm hit. The hail came and the heavy rains as the storm approached the Mound then all of a sudden, the world got deathly quiet. We kids kept running up and downstairs to see what there was to see and I saw the tornado as it came down the side of the Mound heading straight for us.

I had gotten into the corner of the two adjacent walls that had the window well in it and as it hit, I felt glass breaking from the window well as it fell down my back. I screamed and watched as water pipes broke and sprayed, heard the popping and creaking as the home was taken off its foundation and splintered into a million pieces.

After it was over and we heard the all clear on a transistor radio someone had, we made our way to the remains of the stairs, which were only partially there. Some of the college aged neighbor boys were injured as not everyone could fit under the pool table- there had been about 15 or so people taking shelter under the table when it hit. Blood ran down their backs and I as I was pulled from the rubble, I looked to where my home had been. My mom was standing in the driveway with blood running down the side of her head totally in shock and stunned. She looked as if she could not comprehend what she was seeing. My grandmother was lying on her side in our front yard all muddy, blood seeping from a large hole in her upper right arm and moaning. I so wanted to go give her a hug, but I couldn't get my bare feet to move towards her- shock I suppose. My brother did though and got blood on him so he was thought to be injured once we made it to the disaster shelter that had been set up.

I asked my mom later what she remembered and she stated to me that my grandmother and her had weathered the storm holding onto a small tree for dear life, my mom laying on top of her mother to protect her. She also said that the last actual thing she remembered was seeing our awning go sailing over her head as it detached from the house and the front door not opening due to the suction or vacuum of air as the storm approached. Her injury cause long term memory loss to her and she never was able to recover those memories again.

Either the police or perhaps it was the National Guard came by to let us know where to congregate as a disaster shelter had been set up at McEachron Elementary so my dad sent us up there to check in and promised to meet up with us there later, which he did. In the ensuing melee of trying to get help for the injured, we lost track of where both my mom and grandmother had wound up for treatment for about a week.