Arisa Stafford was a single mom-to-be, just weeks from her baby's due date, when the March 12 microburst smashed a tree into the bedroom of her mobile home.
"I don't know how I got out," Stafford, who is still expecting, recalled of the Sunday morning when the storm struck. "I just got out."
A week later, Stafford is trying to get back on her feet. She went back to work Monday after several days spent trying to get her life back in order. Despite what she has been through, she's grateful.
"I'm still trying to piece everything back together," she said.
The 23-year-old had been living in a mobile home park in North Lawrence. When the storm neared, she was sleeping in the tiny bedroom of her trailer. She woke to hail hitting her window, she said.
"Something told me to move," she recalled.
Stafford got up, rushed to her open closet and hovered in the corner with her dog, Pimp Skinny.
The next events happened so quickly, she doesn't know which happened first. Parts of the floor collapsed. A tree smashed through the roof.
Stafford escaped, climbing underneath the tree and over the broken glass. Once outside, she jumped into a neighbor's truck.
How to help
For information about giving or receiving assistance after the storm, contact these agencies: ¢ Roger Hill Volunteer Center, a service of the United Way of Douglas County, 865-5030. ¢ American Red Cross of Douglas County, 843-3550.
The following days were spent trying to pick up the pieces - and to get situated before she gives birth to a baby boy.
Stafford, who is separated from the baby's father, spent two days in a hotel. She managed to salvage her paper documents, a basket of clothes and a blanket her mother had given her for Christmas. But the baby clothes she'd been given from family members and most other items in her bedroom were destroyed.
Stafford sought help from the Red Cross, the United Way and Penn House. She said everyone she talked with at the agencies was helpful.
"I was just lucky for them to be there," she said.
She contacted Tenants to Homeowners and moved quickly through the process of getting a home.
Her new two-bedroom, one-bath residence is nicer than the mobile home, she said. She doesn't own a car, and the walk to work is longer than it used to be. But she's grateful - for those who helped and for making it through, just in time for a new addition.
March 12, 2006, Storm
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- 6News video: Tornado sirens ring loud and clear during testing (03-14-06)
- 6News video: State government plans for KU repair cost (03-14-06)
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- What does it take to sound sirens? (03-15-06)
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- Sebelius and Hemenway press conference, part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
- March 12 Storm: Aftermath
- Storm damage
- Reader photos: Storm damage
- Interactive storm damage map