After the Storm: How an Apison family's plan saved their lives - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

After the Storm: How an Apison family's plan saved their lives

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Joy Colby and her family remember last April 27, as if it were yesterday. They huddled in a first floor closet once they knew a tornado was headed their way.

"The windows were popping," recalls Joy. "You could hear them going POW, POW."

"We were right in the middle of the path of what turned out to be an 800 yard-wide EF-4 tornado, and in a matter of seconds it took our house down to the floor," Joy's husband, Bob says.

Their home of 11 years in Apison, Tennessee was destroyed in an instant.

Injuries occurred after a gun safe fell on them. Joy suffered many broken bones and a cracked vertebrae. Her mother, Nancy, who was visiting, broke her foot. Bob and their son Steven, as well as their dog, Cabela, weren't injured.

The Colby's say they owe their survival ironically to the shield of the safe, but most importantly to having a plan in place well before the storm arrived.

"When we built the house back in 2000 we designated that closet underneath those steps as our safe room to go to," says Bob.

It was the only room standing once the tornado did its damage. Joy knows there's no time to waste in these situations. She believes already knowing what to do saved her family.

"You can't even put that into words because we just did it. We didn't talk about it. We just said, 'let's go,' and we knew where to go," says Joy.

Steven says he's beyond grateful his parents discussed the plan from the time he was a young boy.

"If it hadn't been for the decision to do that I'm very confident that none of us would be standing here today," states Steven.

Joy says it may be just short of a miracle, but she attributes their survival to an overall proactive approach.

"I believe in God. I believe that miracles happen," says Joy. "But I think we have to do our part in making a plan."

They add not having a weather radio was the only flaw in their plan. Thankfully, they were not among the 120,000 plus residents without power as the storms tore through the area.

This allowed them to continue following Channel 3 storm coverage on television.

They bought a weather radio after moving into a rental home.

They hope to start rebuilding their new home on their old property next month.

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