MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - On December 26, Tessie Johnson stood in her backyard on South Carlen Street in disbelief. The home she poured so much love and time into is now in shambles around her feet. The fence she and her husband just put up this month was tossed in the neighbors' yard. Her car was broken and bent under the weight of debris piled on top of it.
Johnson's home was a victim of the Christmas Day tornado. Johnson said she thought she was going to be one as well.
"I thought we were going to die. I mean, we were just holding onto each other, said ‘I love you' and just wasn't sure if we were about to get ripped out of the tub or something was about to fall down on top of us. We just didn't know," Johnson said.
Johnson said she and her husband were sitting on their couch Tuesday evening when the lights went out, and they heard the wind roaring.
She said the two of them jumped up, grabbed their animals and clamored into the tub.
"We had our heads down and huddled together and just holding onto each other, and we felt the pressure change in our ears. I know I felt my ears start popping, and I could hear things crashing down around us and just things ripping. And it was over in about 20-30 seconds."
When the couple walked into the living room, Johnson said she looked up and saw gaping holes in the ceiling and parts of her roof missing.
Outside, her backyard is strewn with debris.
"We're just very thankful we're alive and we can't believe no one was killed with all this damage around us and the other houses. We looked out and saw the other houses completely destroyed," said Johnson.
There are some things Johnson can save from her home like the wedding photos she and her husband took a year ago and a few paintings on the wall.
The hardest part Johnson said is figuring out where to start.
"We've been through hurricanes, but nothing like this. And every hurricane we've been through, you just have trees down and limbs and issues like that; but I've never had a house destroyed," said Johnson. "We just want to get things out, get them somewhere else; and see what we're supposed to do next."
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