By Nick Austin, Meteorologist / Reporter - bio | email
CALHOUN, GA. (WRCB) - "It was unreal. It scared me to death," recalls Joyce Jones.
She's thankful to be alive after a tornado swept by her family's house near Calhoun, Georgia Wednesday. She was home when it tore through the Stone Mill subdivision.
"I was praying to the good Lord to let me live, because I wasn't ready to die," says Jones. "And I was praying for God to be with me and all my loved ones and all my friends around here."
She was speechless even after the tornado passed and definitely in shock.
"My friend opened the door. Joyce was sitting right there on the couch. She was just frozen," says Jami Waters, Joyce's sister, who lives nearby.
Much to the delight and surprise of her husband, Joyce was physically unharmed.
"It's unbelievable to see how much damage was done and my wife doesn't have a scratch on her," says Larry Jones.
The home was lifted and moved dozens of feet off its foundation and cars crushed under the weight of the collapsed garage.
Those things can be replaced, but it's the memory of their son, Tristan, they were afraid to lose. He died in the home last November after an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant. He was only 13 years old. Some pictures of him survived the storm.
"Those pictures of my son can not be replaced. He's in heaven right now. I can't make pictures like that no more of him," says Jones.
This makes it so much harder to rebuild and move on.
"I've been holding on to this place since my son passed away. I didn't want to sell it. I wanted to stay here," Joyce cries out. "But guess what, God just said it's time for you all to go."
The Joneses say they won't rebuild on the same property or in the same neighborhood but do plan to remain in Gordon County.
Their oldest son is in the Marines, stationed in North Carolina, and is coming home to spend some time with the family.