Cecil Miles who is 85 lives with his wife Frances in Houston County on SH 21 just a few miles from Alto, Texas. Saturday afternoon Cecil who is a ham radio operator was planning on increasing his tower height at his home with some friends. His wife was just down the road at the Mounds for an event. Without warning, Cecil said a freight train sounded like it was coming through the house. That is when the tornado struck. The only warning was on television about a tornado warning. Cecil has somewhat of a museum in a shop next to his home. Antiques of every kind from old gas station fuel pumps, to old toys, to a 1902 Sear Catalog. But his prized collection are his cars, one of which he got the day before the storm. The collection includes a 1923 Model-T race car, 1949 Buick Coupe Convertible, 1957 hardtop, and a 1965 Baracuda. His truck was damaged by the storm as was his car. However, the damage to the car was nothing compared to what it could have been as his wife was inside it at the time driving down Highway 21. His wife Frances who is still in a state of shock told us that she had lived in Houston and rode out multiple hurricanes and floods. However, Saturday was a total eye-opener as far as Mother Nature. Frances was traveling west on SH 21 from the Mounds which later she learned was destroyed with multiple injuries and a fatality. She had just passed the Neches River which is the county line between Cherokee County and Houston County. The storm moved in and she saw a tree start to fall across the highway so she stopped so she wouldn’t hit it. When she stopped the remainder f the trees fell on her car with her in it. Frances said she felt blessed as she was in the driver’s seat and the trees made an “X” above her on the vehicle. That’s when the tornado came through. She felt the car shaking as the tornado tried to lift it but the trees she believes helped weight it down. Frances said,” Lord if it’s my time I commend my spirit to your loving hands”. Frances said, “you don’t see a flash of your life before you, and you don’t see panic, everything is slow motion, like a quiet zone.” She stayed in the car until the storm passed and then tried to exit. All her car doors were blocked by trees except for the passenger side rear door. It was open. She was able to get the passenger seat in the reclining position and crawl over it. But first, she had to clear the back seat of the glass from the blown-out rear window. She was then able to crawl into the back seat. But now faced the problem of the reclined passenger seat blocking the rear door. With her wits about her, she took the seatbelt, formed a loop and hooked it around the seat recline release. She was able to put the front passenger seat back to the upright position and crawl out. Once she was out she started hiking back home. Crawling over and under downed trees. She dodged trees until she found a big open pasture and after walking through a ditch was able to get to it and start walking an unobstructed route. Just before she got to the house a Storm Chaser stopped and picked her up and delivered her to her home. She called the Storm Chaser her Guardian Angel. Frances said she was worried about her husband Cecil who was home alone and said, “the Good Lord helped both of us.” Frances who is 81-year-old said the cell phones were out and could not dial 911 so knew she had to do it on her own. “You just make up your mind to do it and go for it, that’s my philosophy,” she said. Her 2010 Mercury Grand Marquis was totaled. She said she could never see the tornado, just the rain whipped wind, the trees and limbs crashing into the windshield. She did say she did a lot of praying. “There is no Athiest in a tornado,” she said. Sunday dozens of friends and fellow Ham Radio Operators descended on the Miles home to help start the cleanup process. Ther home suffered minimal damage and with a standby generator, the power lines down have not affected them. Once Cecil is up and going on his Ham Radio, say hello-KFYAIJ

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