Hazel Green family describes near-miss with EF-3 tornado

WAFF's D'Quan Lee reporting
Published: Apr. 2, 2023 at 11:26 PM CDT
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HAZEL GREEN, Ala. (WAFF) - Saturday morning’s EF-3 tornado killed one person, but Ashley Martin and her family were spared after riding out a direct hit in their storm shelter.

”The initial reaction was just complete shock. Just trying to figure out what was still here and what wasn’t. Who was still here and who wasn’t.”

She says they were awake at 3 a.m. Saturday when the tornado spun up.

“About that time, we got an eerie feeling and we just shut the door. And as soon as we shut the door and got it latched, we had to all put our body weight, at least four people’s worth, to hold the door shut while the tornado was coming through.”

Nine of them were barricaded inside their storm shelter when winds as fast as 160 miles per hour went right over their heads.

Ashley says the family waited at least 15 minutes before coming out to see if the coast was clear.

But all the while, they had a bad feeling about what waited for them outside.

“Just the noises were heard outside was enough to know it was bad. We didn’t want to open the door any sooner than we had to, we wanted to wait it out and make sure everything went by.”

90-year-old Ovie Lasater was the only person who died in the storms, and she was Ashley’s relative.

She says this whole experience has been overwhelming.

But with the support of her family and the entire Hazel Green community, getting their family back on their feet will be a much lighter burden to bear.

“Everybody who has reached out through Facebook or just any way possible offering us help, we just really from the bottom of our hearts thank you ‘cause those so many who have just lost so much.”

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