HIXSON, TN (HAMILTON CO.) (WRCB-TV)--Mary Frazier was living at Lakeshore On The Hill apartments last October when severe storms moved through Hixson. One of the storms produced a tornado which struck her building. She described the scene after the storm as looking like "a war zone."
Mary and a few of her neighbors in building B were on a balcony overlooking the parking lot as the twister approached. "We could see it when it hit the dam," said Frazier. "And I could see this little tornado about that tall [makes hand gesture] just twirling around, you know, down in the valley."
Mary didn't realize the twister was making a b-line-line for her building, and within minutes she and her neighbors tried to run for cover. "None of the doors would open because of the pressure," explained Frazier. Miraculously, she was able to dodge flying debris and the storm left almost as quickly as it arrived.
A few minutes later she called 9-1-1 to report what had happened. Then the night went from bad to worse. Her body went into shock and she suffered cardiac arrest. She passed out and was later told that a neighbor carried her into her apartment while paramedics were en route. Neighbors also cleared tree limbs from nearby roads and driveways leading to the apartment complex to make a smoother path for the ambulance. Mary was rushed to the hospital as quickly as possible. She says the tornado in a strange way may have actually saved her life.
"The doctor told me that if I hadn't had the heart attack because of the storm I would have it at some point because I had blockages and I didn't know about it."
She received triple bypass surgery to correct the problem. If her heart attack struck later down the line, she may not have survived. During her weeks in rehab and recovering at her daughter's home, her apartment was fully repaired. Neighbors also grabbed clothes from her bedroom so they wouldn't get damaged by rain leaking from the apartment above since the roof was torn off by the tornado.
When Mary reflected on the whole experience, she summed it up in just two words. "Just unreal," she exclaimed. She also said she doesn't know the names of any of her neighbors who helped her, but was very grateful for their thoughtful actions.