“I Feel Like I Should Have Died:” Survivors of Deadly Hattiesburg Tornado Recall its Terrifying Moments

Jack Sewell, who lives with his Mom in Petal, can hardly find the words to describe how he feels as he steps over broken plates, electronics, and family pictures scattered around what’s left of their home after a tornado tore through the area early Saturday morning.

“I feel like I should have been dead,” Sewell says leaning into his mom for support. ” I mean we lived here for 18 years. We lost everything.”

Sewell shows us what used to be his bedroom. The roof’s gone, and the bed frame is covered with debris. He says he and his mother would a usually bunkered down in the laundry room, their ‘safe room’, during a tornado, but there wasn’t enough time to act.

“Well…we would have been inside our safe room, which actually would have killed us because it’s thrown across the entire yard,” Sewell says as he points to the slab of concrete where the laundry room used to be.

Luckily, the Sewell’s say they have a place to stay in the meantime and have already filed a claim with their insurance company, but it’s the priceless family photos ruined by the rain that are the hardest materials to part with.

In the next city over, Hattiesburg, the campus of William Carey University looks like a war zone.

Windows are blown out of buildings. Cars are stacked one on top of the other, and solid brick walls have been ripped from their frames.

Lauren Wells, a junior at the University, was inside her dorm room on the top floor of one of the hardest hit dormitories on campus.

“I peaked outside and I could just see the debris flying and the wind whipping, Wells recalled, saying they raced down the stairs to get to a secure area. ” By the time I grabbed the door, everything came down. The ceiling came down.”

Wells and the other girls made it out safely, and they were among several students forced to move all their belongs out of the dorms before night fell.

Haily Quave, a Senior, wonders if she would have made it out of the dorm safely if she had chosen to spend the night in her room instead of going to visit her parents.

“The thing that’s going through my mind is, ‘would I be alive?'” Quave tells us. ” I could have been here, and I wasn’t. I think that’s what makes me so emotional.”

The clean-up process will take months, but Quave, Wells, and the Sewell family say they just feel lucky to be alive because they know others weren’t as fortunate.


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