Sue Miller was sure she and her 81-year-old mother were about to die.
They cowered inside a car Sunday afternoon, as storms tore through the Cedar Crest subdivision where they both live. The winds howled, and they could hear debris crashing to the ground around them.
Then the garage they were in collapsed.
“I yelled, ‘Mom, cover your head,’” Miller said. “I thought we were gone.”
Then the winds died down, and slowly they crawled out of the battered car. They were OK. Nothing around them was, though.
Colleen Carney’s home was destroyed. Damaging winds swept her roof right off her house and spit it out across the street. Walls disappeared. Furniture lay crumpled in a pile.
“This is my childhood home,” Miller said. “The last memories are gone.”
Miller lives across the street from her mother on Saratoga Avenue. A chunk of her fence was destroyed in the storm, but otherwise, her house survived.
Miller was at home with her husband when meteorologists warned people in Kokomo to seek shelter because severe weather was on its way. She immediately called Carney to tell her to hide in the bathroom.
But she was sure the stubborn woman was still in bed. Just to be sure, she hurried over to check on her. Sure enough, Carney hadn’t left.
Miller hooked her mother to temporary oxygen, as winds started to pick up. They ran to Carney’s garage to seek shelter. There was no time left to make it across the street.
“We went and hid in that car there,” she said. “That’s the only thing that saved us.”
Miller dug through the rubble later trying to save what little memories she could. Others in the neighborhood were doing the same.
No one seemed to know whether it was a tornado that touched down or just high winds.
Whatever it was, it destroyed quite a bit.
Police reported at least 50 percent of the homes in the subdivision had been damaged.
It was the people, not the homes, though, that the neighborhood was most concerned about when the storm cleared.
T.J. Howard walked up and down his street, knocking on doors and checking on neighbors. By the time emergency crews arrived, he reported everyone was safe.
He stood in his yard afterward, surveying the damage.
Someone stopped to chat with him. As the man walked away, he said, “It’s a disaster zone here.”
Winston Howard, who lives on Meadowbrook Drive in the subdivision, said he was just thankful his family was OK.
He was worried about his stepdaughter, at first. She had been working at Buffalo Wild Wings when the storm blew through. They had heard the restaurant had been hit, but they didn’t know much else.
Eventually they got word she was OK.
Still, she was shaken up. When she got home, she ran into her mother’s arms and burst into tears.
Her stepdad said he’d never been in a storm like this before.
His home was still intact, but every window in the house had been blown out.
He couldn’t get over the sound the wind made as it blew through. That stuck with him.
“It was a noise I ain’t never heard before,” he said. “This is insane.”
Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune Life & Style editor, can be reached at 765-454-8585 or at firstname.lastname@example.org