Family Of 7 Survives The Tornado

Monday, May 12th 2008, 6:50 pm
By: News On 6

While dozens of people died over the weekend, hundreds more escaped death and their tales of survival are beginning to be told.  The News On 6's Carina Sonn has one family's story.

A day of celebration turned into an event the Redden family will never forget.

"We heard the wind coming and then we started hearing things rip and pull away.  I thought this is going to hit us dead center," said Rayma Redden.

Rayma and six other family members, including two young grandchildren were celebrating Mother's Day early when they heard meteorologists put out the warning:  a tornado was coming.  One of Rayma's daughters even saw the rotation headed straight for them.

"By the time we decided yeah, that looks pretty dangerous, we could hear the sirens go off," said Rayma Redden.

The family quickly split up.  Four of them hid in the closet and three others sought shelter in the utility closet.  They say they only had about 15-seconds until the storm hit.  For more than half a minute, the Reddens literally held on to each other for dear life, fearful that one of them might be sucked out.  And then, it was all over. 

"We couldn't believe it, but there were people missing.  So, that was our first priority was just to look for them, so that's what we did," said Amy Gray.

Rayma's daughter Amy Gray says the family knows all of the victims who did not survive. And, the Reddens are grateful to be searching for just things at their house at 8th and Pearl and not loved ones.

The Reddens say they can look past the mangled mess of cars and debris that has now become unrecognizable because they've survived a deadly tornado and the tough times ahead.

"You just hang on, that's all you could do," said Rayma Redden.