SALADO, Texas (FOX 44) – Families are still recovering after Tuesday night’s tornadoes ripped through communities in Salado and southern Bell County.
FOX 44 News went to the home of one family who feared they would not only lose their home, but each other.
“Today is definitely different than the moments right after,” says survivor Knealie Califano. “Today, it’s all kind of settling. I’m more shaky today, and more emotional.”
“I called her. She said everything was fine, they were just getting rain and hail,” says survivor Joseph Califano. “I gave it another five-to-ten minutes, and then I called to check back in, and all I heard was screaming. It was just heartbreaking.”
Joseph went to work Tuesday – leaving his wife and two daughters, Ariah and Everly, at home. What seemed like a routine day took a turn when tornado warnings in their area went off.
Knealie was watching the news, and heard the tornado was going in a different direction – but little did she know the EF-3 tornado was right in her backyard.
“The backdoor blew out, and I got to them just in time,” Knealie said. “When I got to the closet, the door kept opening. So trying to hold on to both girls in the closet as the door was opening, as we could see the roof was lifting. We had that moment where you just look at each other, and it’s just like – we we’re praying. Praying hard.”
“As a dad, you want to be there to protect your children,” Joseph said. “And you just wan’t to be there for all that. But being at work, it was hard.”
Joseph and Knealie walked us thorough the backyard describing what was lost – but also having an even greater appreciation for what remained.
“I got into the house, and seen my kids standing in the bathroom,” Joseph said. “As soon as they seen me, they lost it, I lost it, and we all just bear-hugged in the bathroom.”
“They are back at school today. They are amazing and so resilient,” Knealie said.
The family is living with relatives while working to restore what they lost.
Knealie’s sister started a GoFundMe account which received a $10,000 donation Thursday from an anonymous person.
When it comes to tornado warnings, Knealie has a word for the community, “Just listen to the alerts. There is really not that much time.”
The parents say the community has rallied together to help them and others during this time.