by: Diana Davis Updated:CALHOUN, Ga. —
The tornado destruction in Oklahoma hits close to home for a local family who barely survived a recent tornado in Gordon County.
Betty Stewart, 79, and her great-grandson, Zane McFarland, were nearly killed when their house was destroyed by a January tornado. Stewart shielded the boy with her body.
On Tuesday, Channel 2's Diana Davis spoke to the family in Calhoun for Zane’s third birthday. Relatives said this year’s birthday is a special miracle.
“I’m just thankful to God that he’s here. He’s been a delight for us ever since the day he was born,” Stewart said.
She showed Davis a picture of rescuers pulling her and Zane out of the rubble. Stewart said initially she didn’t think the storm would be that bad. When it got ugly, she grabbed the family quilt, threw it over them as they huddled in the hall.
“I said, 'If something happens, granny is going to cover you with this quilt and the Lord is going to look after us,’ and he said, ‘OK,'” Stewart said.
Neighbors saw the rubble and heard cries and whimpers.
“To begin with, they thought it was animals then they realized it was people and 911 came on down and rescued us,” she said.
They spent weeks in the hospital. Both Stewart and Zane had broken legs. One of her legs is still bruised.
Seeing the destruction and raw emotion in the aftermath of Monday’s tornado in Oklahoma brings memories of that day flooding back. An EF-5 tornado hit the Oklahoma City suburbs, killing dozens.
“Unreal, I just feel and pray for those people out there. It’s devastating to even watch that,” said Stewart.
A bare spot remains where their house once stood. She told Davis she still has some pain, but for the most part, she and Zane have fully recovered.
The quilt that covered them was recovered from the debris. They keep it close and use it for games of peek-a-boo.
She said Zane is still frightened sometimes by loud noise and storms. She has new respect for storms.
“I used to not be frightened but after what I was in, I realized I need to be frightened,” she said.
All the rubble has been cleared way, but every time the thunder rumbles and the sky turns dark, Stewart told Davis she thinks about that devastating day.