CARL JUNCTION, Mo. – In Carl Junction homes are severely damaged in the Briarbrook neighborhood, but across the road one woman’s mobile home was destroyed.
Debbie Heitzman said she never leaves when there’s a storm, but something Wednesday night told her she needed to go.
The site where her home once was is a pile of twisted metal, broken wood and pieces of memories.
“I was going to stay here, because I’ve never left my home through a storm, and I said a prayer, and I said, ‘God please keep me safe,'” Heitzman told WDAF. “I saw the radar on the TV, and got in my truck and drove to Webb City to my brother in law’s house.”
“I’m just glad that she wasn’t in there,” her brother Tim Moffett, said.
Heitzman said she believes God moved her to get into her car and get to safety soon before her home was demolished by the tornado.
“Something inside of me said go,” Heitzman said. “Yeah, and if I would have really thought about it I would have packed something.”
“She wasn’t going to go, but then she did, so yeah – I think God had a lot to do with that,” Moffett said.
Her brother, children and friends all spent Thursday helping her sort through what was left. Where her home stood was impassible by roads, and her brother brought a tractor in to clear the damage. Her sons ferried people to and from the main road in trucks.
“My daughter told me that I’m blessed because no matter what somehow stuff happens, and now I’ve got good family and friends that’s out here helping me,” Heitzman said. “I couldn’t be more blessed.”
Heitzman said she raised her children in Carl Junction, and plans to stay on the land she’s called home for 25 years. Combing through the rubble she found a symbol of love and friendship, half of a bracelet that read “best friends” given to her by someone she loves.
“Thank God I did leave,” Heitzman said. “It gives me hope and faith.”
“I’m glad she’s still here,” Moffett said.
The Department of Public Safety says it believes around 15 homes were demolished in the Carl Junction tornado, and nearly 230 more were damaged.