'We could've died': Hear from 7 people who survived this week's tornado outbreak

From Texas to Louisiana, people tell harrowing tales of living through Mother Nature's worst

Dozens of tornados hit towns across the South this week, tearing homes and schools apart. Listen to these seven people tell the harrowing stories of their survival.

New Orleans

Terese Bundy tried to drive away from the EF-3 tornado in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans with her two kids in the car. Trees and house siding flew through the air and blocked the major roads out of town.

"There were live wires swinging in the road.  There were sheets of rain, pitch black, you couldn’t see anything," she said. She swerved around one of those wires about to hit her car and lost control.

Bundy and the kids, the youngest four, had to climb out of the sunroof to flag down search and rescue after the twister blew through. Twisted metal wrapped high around a tree over her car was just another reminder of the power of the storm she and her family survived.

Crockett, Texas 

Frances Martin’s grandson was fleeing the bedroom on the front of the house when the roof came off and wall collapsed. Martin, her sister and her sister's three grandkids (all under the age of 10) were huddled in the living room when the tornado struck.

"My grandson was trying to make his way to the living room but something hit him in the head. And something hit me in the back. And the TV flew off the wall and hit my sister in her back," recalls Martin. "The three grandkids, we had to search around to find them [after the storm]."


All five remarkably escaped Martin’s home of 22 years with only cuts and bruises after the EF-2 hit Crockett, Texas, Monday night.

Arabi, Louisiana

Some survivors have no words for what they experienced and are still in shock when seeing the damage in full daylight. Nicole Valdes found property owner Euell Potts III picking through what was left of his properties in Arabi, Louisiana, after an EF-3 tornado tore through the night before.

"Call me Corky, everyone calls me Corky," Potts told Valdes.

"I've been through a lot of hurricanes, but frankly this was the worst [storm] I’ve seen from the viewpoint of the strength the tornado had with respect to the damage to the property and what it did," said Potts. And he is no stranger to storms. He bought the house and gutted it after Katrina. He said that, thankfully, he only had construction storage inside since Ida.

Officials told FOX Weather that over 50% of Arabi sustained damage.

Jacksboro, Texas

Gay Bumpas’ husband came home early from work so he wouldn’t have to drive in the storm. But home was barely safe when an EF-3 tornado came through Jacksboro.

"The trees are really cluttered with stuff, and we think some of our stuff is across the road," said Bumpas. "Then, these men came by and asked us, ‘Would you like us to get that trailer out of your tree?’ We didn’t even know we had the trailer in the tree."

She said the neighborhood next door was devastated, almost flattened, while homes down her street weren’t touched.

Granger, Texas

 "It was actually crazy…we were watching FOX News when it was crossing 35 heading in our direction," said Jolene Volk of the EF-2 tornado heading for Granger, Texas. "So there was warning, but it came so quick. The storm moved so quick that you had to get out of the way quickly."

The life-long Granger resident is a local teacher and volunteer firefighter. She had no time to rest after sheltering from the storm. A call came into the fire department to rescue three of her own students who were trapped in their home.

"It’s a miracle they were alive and were at school the next day," said Volk. She not only went to school to support her students the day after, but she sought out anyone not in school.

FOX Weather found Volk cleaning up along with her incredibly tight-knit community. She said, "We’ve got cleanup going on with some students from the high school. About 50 people are here cleaning up and trying to pick up the pieces and save what can be saved and get ready to move on to the next step: rebuilding."

Arabi, Louisiana

"We heard the alarms go off on our phones, but we ignored them because it happens so often nowadays," said Timothy O’Neill in front of his damaged home in Arabi, Louisiana. The O’Neills don’t even have a room in the home without windows to shelter in.

He, his wife and 12-year-old daughter ran out of the house as soon as the EF-3 tornado passed to check on neighbors.


"It’s still sinking in. It’s surreal. I haven’t really processed it yet," admitted O’Neill. "My main job is getting the houses cleaned up. My wife is very shaken up. She kind of carries the emotional burden for both of us."

Jacksboro, Texas

"I was at high school picking up my child when my oldest calls and says, ‘Mom, get home. There’s a tornado coming," said Darlene Wigington, who thought her child was joking. "Then I heard the sirens and said, ‘Oh, Lord.’"

Officials at the high school, which sustained serious damage, tried to get Wigington and her kids to stay, but she wanted to get home to her family. She barely got home to ride out the tornado with her seven grandkids, two children and her husband.

"I was one of the blessed ones," she said. "The path was, what, 100 yards away? We didn't get near the damage."