LYNDHURST, Ohio (WJW)– A Northeast Ohio family miraculously survived being caught in the massive tornado that ravaged Kentucky. They had traveled to the Bluegrass State for a celebration, but now find themselves grateful, wondering how they all made it out alive.
“We were all in a tornado last night. And the house fell on us all, all nine of us, and all nine of us got out with no major injuries,” said Tim Hatzidakis in a video he made Saturday morning.
Stunned by the destruction around him, Hatzidakis, of Lyndhurst, is unable to believe his family survived a powerful tornado that wiped away the two-story log cabin they were renting in Gilbertsville, Kentucky the night before.
The family’s new Ford Explorer and other vehicles were destroyed as well.
“This is what the place looks like, the day after… It is destroyed. The cars are gone. There were two houses here. They are gone… All of our stuff is gone,” he further explains in the video.
Hatzidakis’ family rented the lakeside cabin for a surprise 50th anniversary party for his parents. After a night of dinner and games, his wife Kelly went upstairs to the second floor to sleep.
They knew bad weather was on the way, but never imagined what happened next. Hatzidakis and his wife Kelly’s son, John, recorded the storm as it started rolling through with heavy rain, thunder and lightning.
“The power to the house that we were in and all across the lake went out, everywhere and I looked at my brother and said it’s time to get everyone down,” Hatzidakis said.
Most the family ran down to a partial basement. Hatzidakis ran upstairs to get his wife who was sleeping. They barely made it to the basement before the massive tornado struck.
“It goes dark and walls start hitting us. She gets knocked down, the stairs flip over and land on her back, everything is dark, everything is quiet… It happened in a second, a split second” he said.
“From the time that Tim went upstairs to get me, to wake me out of a dead sleep, to the time we got to the basement, maybe it was 10 seconds… He saved my life… If I had stayed in that bed upstairs, the tornado would have surely have killed me,” said Kelly Hatzidakis.
The couple was trapped by debris. Most other family members had made it to a concrete corner of the basement, but not everyone.
“It knocked my brother over, it knocked my mother over, it knocked my father over…. My father was pinned by the washing machine and laying flat on his belly,” said Tim Hatzidakis.
Before neighbors came over to help, Tim’s brother used his cell phone flashlight to help free his trapped relatives.
“He starts ripping debris and doors and furniture to free us,” said Kelly.
Tim cut his head, trying to rescue his wife.
“It was miraculous, it was the hand of God,” he said.
“I think words cannot express how grateful we are to be alive and what a miracle that is that everyone that we loved in that home with us, our entire family was saved,” said Kelly.
The Hatzidakis family called loved ones to let them know they were OK and that’s when they learned how massive the storm was.
Tim’s brother had friends in Lexington, Kentucky who picked them up so they could buy new clothes and shoes, and let them stay there.
Then Tim and Kelly’s daughter drove to Kentucky and brought them back to Lyndhurst. They returned home around 6 p.m. Sunday.