Woman recalls waking up among the dead

by: Jeff Dore Updated:

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the deadly tornadoes that ravaged Alabama and Georgia, Glynis Lawson, who woke up in a body bag, is a miracle story of survival.

DADE COUNTY, Ga. - On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the deadly tornadoes that ravaged Alabama and Georgia, Glynis Lawson is a miracle story of survival.

She hid in her closet from the last of three tornadoes that ripped through Dade County on the Georgia/Alabama line South of Chattanooga. That's the last thing she remembers until two weeks later.

The tornado destroyed her house. A neighbor found her 100 feet away -- hip broken, shoulder dislocated, a hole in her back, her nose and one ear barely hanging on. She was conscious at first, but slipped unconscious and, at some point, someone decided she was dead and wrapped her in a black tarp, what they were using for makeshift body bags.

They delivered her to the Dade Health and Rehabilitation Center, along with the bodies of other tornado victims. It became a temporary morgue with some bodies in rooms, some in ambulances and some just out in the parking lot.

In the chaos of tragedy, three nurses thought they heard a muffled moan, but weren't sure and almost ignored it. But they opened one of the bags…and "when we opened up the bag," said nursing supervisor Dana Culpepper, "we found out that she was alive!"

Immediately, they switched back from their temporary role as morgue attendants to life-saving Registered Nurses, started an IV and stabilized Lawson for the ride to the hospital.

To look at Glynis Lawson now, you wouldn't know that her nose was surgically repaired. Her grandson says, "Nana, how did you feel, flying through the air?" She doesn't remember that at all. But she has come back to the Health Center many times, even brought her father there when he needed help.

"I just consider it as the grace of God," she said, "and I'm here because of God. And he put all these angels at work for him and I've got many of them."

As Mark Twain once wrote, "the report of my death was an exaggeration." In Glynis Lawson's case, it was almost the final report, until her angels looked in that bag.

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