Clinton resident recalls 2008 tornado

    10:10 PM, Apr 11, 2013   |    comments
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    CLINTON, Ark. (KTHV) -- The tornado that struck near Clinton Wednesday night stirred painful memories of the deadly tornado that devastated the area 5 years ago.

    On the evening of Feb. 5, 2008, Mary Johnson was at home with her husband and niece recovering from the flu. That's when she received a phone call that a tornado was headed straight for her home.

    "The minute I go to the front door, I could tell it was here because the weather was just odd. The air was different. It smelled like fresh trees and grass and that type of thing, and the color was odd, and it was trying to suck me out the door," she recalled.

    She was trapped in her house for more than an hour with her husband badly injured, and all the while, she was unsure if her sister-in-law next door and mother down the road had survived.

    "I'm never going to make the assumption that I'm not going to be a statistic because in '08, my mother became a statistic and as did so many of us who lost our homes," she said.

    Mary and her husband rebuilt on the same land. This time their home is equipped with a safe room and a clock that stands still at the time the tornado hit.

    "The experience of going through one. Knowing what to look for, knowing the smells that are in the air, the coloration of the skies you know and so all you can do is pray," she explained.

    Johnson said Wednesday afternoon she was at work when the storms hit, but her husband was back at their house and re-living a nightmare.

    "He could see the dark wall clouds developing to the west of us. It was coming through the same pattern that it came in '08. It was the exact same track," she added.

    The 2008 Clinton tornado was rated an EF-4 and killed three people in that area.

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