Missouri Man Spared from Tornado's Wrath

March 1, 2007 - Posted at 10:45 p.m. CST

HOWELL COUNTY, MO - Thursday's tornado started in southwest Howell County near Caulfield... damaging two gas stations, four mobile homes and at least two homes before moving northeast 15 miles to right outside of West Plains.

Despite wide-spread destruction, Sheriff Robbie Crites feels that Howell County was lucky; only one family suffered injuries.

As the K8 storm team always says, minutes save lives when it comes to severe weather.  But Thursday, for a West Plains' man, seconds made the difference between life and death.

"I had the scanner on and they said there was one on the ground near Fairview School so I looked out the window and there it was," said Howell County resident Max Shipley.

Shipley was preparing to go to work, but Thursday he didn't need his morning coffee to get to moving.

"When I see that coming I could see all that stuff going in circles and I knew right away I better find a hole," said Shipley.

He crawled into his cellar just about the time he began to hear debris hitting the house. After several noisy minutes, it was still and the worst was over.

"I figured I was lucky but the house wasn't," said Shipley.

Shipley was right, the house was demolished. Roof and walls missing, his possessions thrown into the yard, nothing like he remembered it.

"This was the carport and the pickup was where we stand, it's across the road tore all to pieces, had a motor home sitting on the other side of the house now it's over here," said Shipley.

The Shipley family spent most of the day looking through what they could and salvaging but some things they have been unable to find....like their roof.

Thursday afternoon friends and family helped Shipley and his wife salvage what they could from what used to be their house. Despite losing just about everything, Shipley remains upbeat because he knows Thursday he cheated death.

"I'm just pretty dang lucky," smiled Shipley.

As for Max Shipley and his wife, they do plan to rebuild their home.  However in the short term, Shipley says he will be staying with one of his children or borrowing a camper trailer from a friend.