Student feels the fear as twister rips through town
BUDERIM student Gemma Layfield has dodged the destruction of a twister tearing through Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
The 21-year-old, a student on a university soccer scholarship in the southern US state, spoke yesterday of how a twister's path of destruction came within kilometres of her home.
The state was still coming to grips with the ferocious weather event, which ripped up trees, mangled commercial buildings and tore roofs off homes on Sunday. The twister stormed through three counties and damaged buildings at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Gemma first saw the storm warnings rolling across the television screen while she was watching a basketball match.
"As usual I thought nothing of it, as many warnings have happened before but nothing has come from it," Gemma said.
"I remember getting up to get something to eat shortly after and saw a weird glow happening outside. It seemed like a sun shower, but really dark clouds loomed ahead.
"One of my (soccer) teammates who is from Sydney messaged me a few minutes later saying she just saw a huge tornado go right past her bedroom window off campus, it was heading my way and already had a lot of debris flying around in the centre of it.
"The lights flickered for about 10 minutes and then heavy rain followed. I really didn't realise what had actually gone on around me until I spoke with my teammate."
Gemma said the twister tore a path through the centre of town before heading towards the neighbouring town of Petal.
"Some of the worst damage happened at Oak Grove High School, where the football and baseball fields are completely annihilated," she said.
"Cars were lifted and thrown elsewhere, and a fellow soccer player was taken to hospital from concussion injuries as his car flew eight feet (2.5m) in the air.
"I can't believe that my house and street were untouched."