By Krystal Smith, staff contributor, American Red Cross North Texas Region
Timika Adams moved to the Dallas area from Detroit, Michigan in 2004 and quickly grew desensitized to the many alerts warning Texas residents of potential tornado threats.
The evening of Sunday, October 20 at 9 P.M. was no different. While sitting at home, Timika’s phone let out a loud ring from a text message from the National Weather Service, alerting residents they should “immediately take cover.”
When receiving similar messages in the past, she had never noticed the phrase “immediately take cover.” Still, like many, Timika dismissed the message, assuming it would simply be another round of severe thunderstorms.
Then she heard the outdoor sirens begin to sound—a warning of extremely high winds in the area. While she recognized her need to stay inside, Timika remained confident the storm would pass without incident like so many times before.
Her phone rang again. This time, it was the friendly yet concerned voice of her father, calling to see if she was ok, given the weather heading her way. While she thought it odd for her father to be concerned about another storm, she calmly and confidently let him know she was ok.
As she hung up the phone, her daughter, who lives a few miles away called, “Mom, I just got a text message that says we need to take cover right now, and I think they’re serious!” Hearing the fear in her daughter’s voice, Timika calmly told her how to take shelter from the storm. She told her daughter to grab their pets and take cover in an interior room away from any windows.
Though still questioning the severity of the storm, Timika decided she too should take shelter, just in case. She unplugged her appliances, grabbed her bearded dragon “Alana,” and sat in her laundry room. After several minutes, she decided it was safe to come out but quickly learned otherwise.
As she opened her laundry room door, she froze upon hearing the piercing roar of the wind, its intensity increasing with every second. Debris began smacking the building, windows and doors with such great force there was no question this was the real thing!
She immediately tucked back into the laundry room, covered her head and called her daughter. Panic began to creep in as she described to her daughter the deafening noises she was hearing outside. As her fears took over, she remembers screaming out to her daughter, “pray, Pray, PRAY for me please!! Help me! Help me!”….and the phone died.
Alone, wondering if she’d ever hear her daughter’s voice again, Timika braced herself for the worst. “I put my head down. I thought I was going to die. I thought this is the end of it right here,” Timika quietly recalls with her voice trailing off in remembrance.
Timika said one final prayer and everything went silent. She no longer heard the harassing winds or torrential rains, all that remained was an eerie silence. Slowly she got up and walked out of her laundry room, noting only a broken window as evidence of the fury that had just passed.
Outside she could hear screaming and crying as neighbors began to surface. She opened her door and navigated through the debris to see the destruction left behind. While there were, fortunately, no fatalities, the damage caused was enough to close the complex, stripping tenants of their homes and sense of security.
With a soft-spoken heart of gratitude, Timika, grateful to have reconnected with her daughter, describes the generosity of people and organizations that came together to help her and her community in their time of need. From the Richardson Police Department giving hotel vouchers to the Cutters Point Apartment staff finding tenants a new home at a sister property and the many nonprofit organizations that provided resources to help people get back on their feet.
“Thank you for the Red Cross, I’m grateful,” Timika said as she tried to hold back her tears, remembering all that she’d experienced. “[The Red Cross has] helped me in ways that [they] really don’t know, not just financially, but mentally and spiritually too. [They] are more than just providers, [they] are encouragers.”
Due to the damage sustained at her apartment complex, Timika was one of the many displaced residents to receive $450 in financial assistance from the Red Cross. In response to the 10 tornadoes that touched down across the metroplex on Oct 20, the Red Cross provided more than 11,000 meals and snacks, 1,300 comfort and clean-up supplies, and supported nearly 300 people with their health, mental health and spiritual care needs.
For many, experiencing a tornado and losing a home could quickly lead to anger and frustration. For Timika, she keeps a smile on her face and gratitude in her heart, and is choosing to use her tragedy to help others by becoming a Red Cross volunteer.
To learn how you can help people affected by disasters or to volunteer, visit www.redcross.org.