Storm survivors in St. Mary share their stories

Missouri

ST. MARY, Mo. – Stories of survival are emerging from St. Mary residents who made it through the powerful and frightening storm.

Miraculously, authorities reported no injuries in the small Ste. Genevieve County town hard hit by Mother Nature’s fury. But the experience left residents shaken.

“It was really scary; really, really scary,” said Tim Schwartz.

Emelie Bequette added: “Your ears popped after the lights went out and it was seconds, literally seconds.”

Those are words from people who rode out the powerful St. Mary tornado in their homes on Seventh Street.

That area is the center of town. It was also the center of the damage from the destructive tornado.

Multiple structures, including homes and the local antique mall, took a direct hit from the storm.

Tim Schwartz and his daughter, Bailey, took cover in their bathroom.

“It was pouring super hard and it was generally windy all day long,” he said. “But then we went into the bathroom, blankets, towels, ready to camp out and then silence. And then you could hear debris from the antique mall hitting our house, which is probably 150 yards away. And that’s when I knew it was hitting.”

Bailey added: “I’m just happy to be alive. I’m happy that my house is still standing and nothing really happened to it.”

Ryan West and his fiancé, Emeilie Bequette, huddled with their three kids in their basement.

Like Tim and Bailey, their house is still standing. But it was damaged.

“When the lights flickered, we all hunkered down into a ball. I pulled a mattress over the top of us. And then the power went out, so the kids are freaking out. We were just trying to keep them calm at the same time but you could hear it. It sounded like a train,” West said.

Daylight revealed the true extent of the damage.

Bequette is just grateful that nobody was hurt.

“We have our lives, that’s what matters,” she said.

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