Family Shares Survival Story

Thursday, May 15th 2008, 5:52 pm
By: News On 6

As the clean-up in Picher continues, more residents are sharing their stories of survival.  The News On 6's Jeffrey Smith reports one family had an incredible tale.

Since it was Mother's Day weekend, some had families in from out-of-town when the tornado hit.  One husband and wife were entertaining five relatives.  And to survive, they all had to huddle together in a 4-foot-by-4-foot hallway.

It was meant to be a memorable Mother's Day for the Martins.  But, the storm wasn't what they were hoping would make it so.

It started with a celebratory dinner.  Larry and Cindy's two daughters, Erica and Julie, had recently moved to Kansas.  The next time they'd see Erica, she'd likely be married to her boyfriend, Mark.

So they got together Saturday in Picher.  An hour after they ate.  The town where they all grew up was gone.

"We were just hanging on, and we felt the roof go, and we felt the walls starting to creak, we felt the pull on the walls," said Larry Martin.

They all hid in a tiny hallway.

"We all just made a mad dash, and we huddled, five people, all right in here.  And, we sat down our hands and knees, and were hugging, just hugging each other and trying to keep our faces down," said Larry Martin.

"You could hear a loud boom, and that was the glass breaking. And, you could feel the pressure. The girls said their ears actually popped. Then there was the roar, like a freight train coming," said Cindy Martin.

They say an interior wall was the difference between life and death.  And, on a block that's reduced to rubble, in a house that's no longer livable, five members of the Martin family walked away unhurt.

The Martins, like many other families, say they'd like to rebuild in Picher.  But, that's not a possibility.  They say by the end of the month, they're looking to relocate to Joplin and start over.