The Tot and the Twister: A Real-Life Tornado Drama

When a tornado struck near their hometown of Forney, Texas, the Enochs almost lost it all: Here's the amazing story behind how they held on.

By Derek Burnett from Reader's Digest Magazine | November 2012

The Tot and the Twister: A Real-Life Tornado DramaPhotograph by Tom Hussey
At 2:00, Lindsey and her colleagues at the day care center got the word to take the children to the building’s “weather areas” (central, windowless rooms). Once she had her kids tucked away safely, she stepped out into the hallway where her bosses were talking about the situation. “Diamond Creek has been hit,” one of them said.

Horrified, Lindsey called her mother. Nothing.

Sherry had expected the tornado to sound like a freight train. That’s what everyone compares it to. But freight trains do not drown out the whole world. There had been an eerie quiet, and then the house’s electrical system had shut down with an audible pop. And soon the winds were so violent that she couldn’t hear her own screams. The tornado even drowned out the sound of its own destruction: no crashing of shattering glass, no moaning of splintering boards—only the hellish, booming roar of 150 mph winds. But whether or not Sherry could hear it, the twister was laying waste to her home. Observers watched as the house seemed to explode into the tornado as if struck by a bomb, turning the funnel from grayish-white to deep brown as it sucked building materials and the family’s belongings up from the ground.

And then the tornado tried to snatch up Laine. Sherry clutched at her grandson for all she was worth, so much so that she never noticed the broken-off boards with exposed nails slamming into her head, shoulders, back, and ribs, puncturing her skin and leaving bloody holes surrounded by great yellow bruises. She also had no idea that she was no longer in the bathtub. Somehow, the twister had lifted her and the three children free, spilling them into the wind. And now Laine was sliding away from her.

“Megan, have you talked to Mom? Are they OK?” It was Lindsey calling.

Megan was crying. “I don’t know!”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know.” That’s all she could say.

Ignoring her boss’s pleas to stay put, Lindsey jumped into her car and sped through the empty streets of Forney, squinting through a rain-streaked windshield. The roads were clear until she approached Diamond Creek, where a logjam of emergency vehicles brought her progress to a halt.

Sherry grabbed Laine’s chubby legs above the ankles and strained to pull him back against her. She felt the little boy slipping and applied all her strength to the fearsome tug-of-war she was waging with the tornado.

I’m doing what I can, she thought, but I don’t know if it’s enough. The storm suddenly sucked harder, nearly yanking the boy free, and Sherry bore down, fighting back with the last of her energy. “I’m losing him!”

And then the tornado moved on. The battle was over. The struggle to save Laine had lasted somewhere between four and ten seconds.

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