When the first of two tornado sirens went off, Emily's parents didn't act very alarmed. They weren't moving very quickly.
The lights went out.
"I begged them to come with me to the basement," she said.
It was 5:45 p.m., she recalls. The tornado was on top of them. "It happened very quickly - bad to very bad," he said. "I thought, 'This it it. She's right.' "
Emily Fuller knew how little time they had.
Her father opened a basement closet that he had intended, when he furnished the space, to be an ideal tornado shelter.
"Turns out we were storing all our china in there," he recalled. "So I said, 'Okay, that's not going to work.'"
The basement had another closet so the three dove in.
Minutes passed. The sound of a storm can be deceptive. And to Stephen Fuller's ear, it seemed for a brief time that the storm was ebbing. Out of curiosity, he stuck his head up high enough to look out of window. The winds were blowing at maddening speed. He said loudly, 'Hey, I don't see a tornado.'"
Emily ordered him to get down.
When the twister passed, her phone rang. It was her sister calling from Birmingham, Alabama. "She said she was watching the news and all of Joplin was gone," Emily said. "I just couldn't believe it."
The Fuller family was lucky. Emily and her parents were uninjured. Their house, less than a mile from the town's most ravaged neighborhood, was untouched.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Student survives Tuscaloosa, Joplin tornadoes
A powerful story on a CNN blog about Emily Fuller, 20, Joplin, whose spring semester at the University of Alabama was shortened by the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa...then she came here for more of the same: