AN EASTBOURNE teenager survived the devastating American tornado which claimed the lives of 142 people.
Stacey Tonks, 19, from Roselands, found herself in the middle of a disaster zone during a visit to Joplin, Missouri, when winds of more than 200mph tore a six-mile path through the middle of the city.
Stacey was driving with her friend Abby when she heard warning sirens.
The girls stopped a Toys ‘R’ Us store to take shelter and, at first, made light of the situation.
“Then we got a text from our friend Markelle Dumm telling us we were not safe and we needed to get to her basement as fast as we could,” she said.
“That’s when I realised how naive we were. We didn’t have a clue about tornados.”
Stacey spent the next hour with 12 others in the basement of Markelle’s house.
It wasn’t until they turned on the radio that the group realised quite how serious the tornado was – it had destroyed the local hospital, three schools and the Walmart store.
Many of Stacey’s friends lost their homes in the disaster and the student is now is encouraging all her English friends to donate any money they can spare to help rebuild the city.
• Read the full story in the Eastbourne Herald, June, 3.
• For more information or to donate, log on to the website rebuildjoplin.org