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College Student Survives Both Joplin and Tuscaloosa Tornadoes

Emily Fuller took this photo of the aftermath of the tornado near her home in Joplin, Missouri

Emily Fuller was with her roommates in her Tuscaloosa, Alabama duplex when she heard tornado sirens for the first time. The University of Alabama student, 20, did not take the sirens seriously until she got a frightened call from her elder sister. Fuller and her roommates sought shelter in a closet as the April 27 tornado ripped through the college town, leaving their duplex unscathed but claiming the lives of forty-two people, including six UA students. One was Fuller’s sorority sister.

UA canceled classes for the rest of the semester, so Fuller packed her bags and drove back to her hometown of Joplin, Missouri in hopes of a calm summer after the Tuscaloosa disaster. Three weeks later, on May 22, Fuller was working out at a Joplin gym when the unthinkable happened.

Hearing tornado sirens for the second time in a month, Fuller reacted at once.

“By that time, I was already scared because of what happened (in Tuscaloosa),” Fuller told The Joplin Globe. “I actually took it seriously this time… When the lights went out, it was like deja vu.”

Fuller quickly contacted her parents and insisted that they move to a safe place with her. “I begged them to come with me to the basement,” she told CNN.The family huddled together in a basement closet until the tornado passed. Once again, Fuller survived the natural disaster without injury, and the family’s house was not damaged.

The May 22 tornado killed 134 residents of Joplin, Missouri and destroyed more than 8,000 homes and 500 commercial properties.

Despite enduring two tornadoes, Fuller considers herself fortunate, the Joplin Globe reports. ?“I didn’t have any damage to either place that I lived, so I do feel guilty that I have a bed to go home to,” Fuller said in light of the destruction. She has expressed optimism about Joplin’s recovery.

On June 1, Fuller returned to Tuscaloosa to begin summer classes at the University of Alabama. 

Tarina is a freshman at Harvard University, where she plans to study English. In addition to serving on the Editorial Board of the Harvard Crimson newspaper, Tarina is involved in Philips Brooks House Association, a community service organization, and Ghungroo, Harvard's annual South Asian dance extravaganza. When she's not buried in pre-med classes or Arabic homework, Tarina likes to indulge in Indian soap operas, try unusual cuisine, and speculate on the meaning of life with her partners in crime, AKA friends. She loves creative writing and administrates a fiction blog as well as an online journalism portfolio, and her highly entertaining mishaps often merit publication on Harvard FML.
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