Woman Saves Ventilator-Dependent Child During Screven Tornado

Jennifer Miller's bedroom.
Jennifer Miller's bedroom.

Every family in Screven, Georgia, has its own tornado story to tell after yesterday's destructive storm. Some are more dramatic than others.

There were no serious injuries, but a lot of close calls. One woman risked her own life to protect her 6-year-old daughter, who was attached to a ventilator when the tornado touched down.

"I couldn't believe it, I was just shocked," said Jennifer Miller.

She says there was no way to prepare. "We didn't have time. It hit all of a sudden."

Before she knew it, a tornado turned Jennifer's life upside down. "I could see insulation flying through the air, but I didn't know what was going on," she said. "The wind was so loud, you couldn't even hear trees blowing over."

The only thing one her mind was her 6-year-old daughter Kaylie. Kaylie suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and needs a ventilator to breathe. The power went out, water started gushing through the ceiling, and Jennifer, along with Kaylie's nurse, sprawled their bodies over Kaylie to keep her dry and safe.

"We just covered ourselves over the baby and prayed for God to protect us," Jennifer said.

She left her bedroom to take care of Kaylie, and while she was gone, the room suffered heavy damage.

But Jennifer's biggest fear was that a huge tree which fell would blow over in a different direction and fall onto the house and on her daughter's bedroom.

"We were all liable to be goners then," she said.

Doug Todd works for Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief. But this disaster was different. "I've seen a lot worse than this," he said. "But Screven is my home, so this hit a lot closer to home."

While victims are fed and given shelter, he's offering support in a different way. "I know everyone in this town, so I cried with some people and try to help them get through this," he said.

Jennifer says Kaylie is okay and insurance will cover the house. But her the tornado's impression is a lasting one.

"Never thought I would go through something like that," she said. "I just thank God we are alive."

Kaylie is staying at Wayne County hospital in the ICU. Jennifer is waiting to hear from insurance officials. We are told the Georgia insurance commissioner's office is surveying the damage by plane.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com