Tornado survivor recalls 30 seconds that seemed like an eternity - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Tornado survivor recalls 30 seconds that 'seemed like an eternity'

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The tornado ripped out the wall of Taylor Nichol's second-story Tuscaloosa apartment. (Source: Taylor Nichols) The tornado ripped out the wall of Taylor Nichol's second-story Tuscaloosa apartment. (Source: Taylor Nichols)
A view into the Nichol's bedroom from their safe area. (Source: Taylor Nichols) A view into the Nichol's bedroom from their safe area. (Source: Taylor Nichols)
A view from the Nichol's front door. (Source: Taylor Nichols) A view from the Nichol's front door. (Source: Taylor Nichols)

TUSCALOOSA (RNN) - When University of Alabama law student Taylor Nichols emerged from his safe place, the laundry room in his apartment, his life was thankfully intact - but much of his second-story apartment wasn't.

"I could see there was too much light coming from our bedroom," he said. "I had a bad feeling."

The wall of his Tuscaloosa apartment had been ripped off and light flooded into the debris-riddled space that used to be his bedroom.

"The famous freight train, I definitely heard that, but I thought maybe it was just the wind," he recalled. "I knew it was a tornado when my ears popped. The pressure just dropped really fast and I knew that's what it was. Then we heard the glass break and the entire apartment was shaking."

He had been on the phone with his dad, who was driving back to Tuscaloosa from Tennessee, unaware of how severe the weather situation had become. As Nichols and his wife huddled in their laundry room, the tornado hit.

"We had him on speaker phone and he heard a lot of noise and us screaming and then it cut out," Nichols said. "We were on the floor in the laundry room and I assume the cell towers blew out because it went off line."

Almost as soon as the storm hit, it was over, the damage done.

"It didn't feel violent enough to have ripped off the entire side of the building, but that's what happened," he said. "It seemed like an eternity, but it lasted probably 30 seconds tops."

"It sucked up the mattress off the bed frame but the bed frame was [still] there. The TV sitting in the corner of my room was still there. The wall was gone but the TV was still sitting there. I have no idea how that was even possible."

Nichols said it's the third tornado to hit a home he's lived in. A twister hit his family home as a child. Another tornado hit his Montgomery, AL apartment in 2006, when Nichols was at work.

"After every one, I said 'My chances of getting hit [again] by a tornado are pretty nil,' but I say it every time and I get hit every time."

Nichols says he and his wife will be living with his parents while they look for a new place. And he's keeping a good sense of humor about the search.

"We'll be living in a downstairs apartment next time, maybe a brick building, cinder block," he said. "My wife and I are physically ok so that's what matters."

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