By Rod Guajardo
Even though her mother rode out one of the most devastating tornados in the country’s history in 1936, Maria Everett didn’t grow up with a fear of storms.
But that didn’t mean she ignored the warnings from friends and co-workers on April 28, 2014, when an EF-3 tornado was heading toward Tupelo.
Everett left North Mississippi State Hospital, where she works as a nurse, and rushed back to her Joyner Neighborhood house after a stop at her parents’ house next door.
“I was heading back to my house from checking on my parents when I saw this thing in the sky,” Everett said. “It didn’t look like a tornado, but just like a big angled storm front coming this way.”
She rode out the storm in her Tuscan-style house she’s owned since 2001 for what felt like an eternity, even though she was later told the actual devastation around her home lasted all of 15 seconds.
After the roar of the storm quieted, Everett ventured outside to find what seemed like half of the neighborhood’s trees in her front and back yards.
The house itself received minimal damage, while her parent’s house was significantly damaged. Her brother’s house across from that, where her nephew lives, wasn’t damaged much.
The outpouring of support from her friends, co-workers and neighbors following the storm still amazes Everett.
“Everyone was helping so much and to see everyone coming together really made me proud to be living in the Joyner area,” Everett said. “It was the Joyner spirit coming out to help.”
The loss of her father later that year in November made 2014 a rough year for Everett. But she’s hopeful that with the repairs to her house and getting her mother back in their family home, 2015 will continue to be a better year.