Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Joplin resident: 'I've never been so happy to be alive'

Tarah Castleberry took these photos of her home 30 minutes after the tornado hit.


Tarah Castleberry was awoken by her husband, Andrew, shortly after the tornado sirens began to sound in Joplin, Missouri, Sunday night. Castleberry got up and decided to go outside and check the weather. “It’s not unusual for the sirens to go off and nothing happen," she explained.


“When I looked at the sky it looked like [the storm] was north of us, so I started calling everyone north of us,” she said. “But then it all went downhill from there.”


Castleberry realized that something was very wrong when she and her husband noticed the birds flying in odd patterns. The couple decided to prepare for the worst. She asked her husband to grab the dog kennel from the garage. As he did this, Castleberry went outside again. The temperature started to drop rapidly and the sky grew darker. The ground started to vibrate and she heard what sounded like trains coming straight towards her.


"We ran," Castleberry said. "We got to the hallway and I slammed the door behind me. We did not have time to do anything else.”


As the tornado passed overhead, the couple huddled in the hallway with their dogs, just “praying, hoping it would end.”


“We felt the tornado hit almost immediately after we sat down on the hall floor,” Castleberry said. “The whole house began to violently shake and the sounds I don’t think I could describe with a million words. Our walls looked like they were liquid the way they were moving. They were rolling.”


Castleberry said the sounds of the tornado were the scariest part. “It sounded like the whole house at any second was going to collapse,” she described. We just heard things ripping and tearing, things slamming into walls. The roof above our heads began to peel off. I put Maxx in the kennel and grabbed my husband’s hand. We began to pray.”


Shortly after, the tornado hit their home, sending debris and belongings everywhere. Their dryer landed on Andrew, and a closet door and a bookcase smashed into on Castleberry’s back.


“I remember feeling this force slam into my back,” Castleberry said. “I will never forget the look on my husband’s face. We continued to pray, but I was so resigned to the fact that we were going to die that day.”


“I thought you were gone," Andrew later told her. “That door hit you and the room was gone.”


Although Andrew was hit in the head and Castleberry is suffering from serious back pain, they refuse to get medical attention right now because they believe that there are people who need it more.


“If you can walk and you can talk, leave it for other people," Castleberry said. “There are so many other people hurt so much worse.”


What happened Sunday night is something Castleberry will never forget.  “I’ve never been so happy to be alive because we really thought that was it,” she said.


If you were affected by the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri, Sunday night, please share your story with CNN iReport.

May 24, 2011
Click to view larena's profile

ccostello3 thanks for sharing

May 25, 2011
Click to view pm77's profile

Wow. What a scary, incredible and moving story. I can't begin to imagine what they went through. It's noble that they're letting people in dire need get medical attention, but they MUST get checked soon. Internal injuries can be worse than they first let on. Do not wait too long. Please!


So happy to hear they're OK.

May 25, 2011
Click to view RMortis's profile

this is a prefect example of "Global Warming"-"Climate Change" wake up people


May 25, 2011
Click to view Lotusa's profile

  This is a sign of---

   the world balancing--itself.

May 25, 2011
Click to view Pixiepoop's profile

Lotusa is exactly right. The major earthquakes we have recently experienced have literally thrown the Earth off kilter. Just like an oversize load in the spin cycle. There is an imbalance that is being slowly corrected for over time. Even the speed at which the Earth rotates was effected, so of course wind patterns are different than they were. This is a long term problem, folks, not to be resolved for decades.

June 3, 2011
Click to view sergiocodon's profile

this is really sad we have to be careful about this Global warming to keep the world save from all this climate change. Just like an oversize load in the spin cycle.

June 9, 2011
Click to view Anchorman89's profile

RMortis... What are you going to wake up to? Its a cycle of like for Billions of years. The last one was about 12-14000 years ago, the last days of the Pleistocene which last 1.5 million years. Sooner or later it will change Birmingham Alabama will be under water again and life will go on. Im not going to sit around and worry myself to death over it. Be Happy!

You must be logged in to post a comment.

About the iReport Blog

The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.

Categories Recent posts Monthly Subscribe