Woman describes frantic details of March 28, 2020 tornado

Antilley: “I hear her scream, glass breaking, and the phone went dead.”
Updated: Mar. 28, 2021 at 7:15 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The area behind the Mall at Turtle Creek took a direct hit from the March 28, 2020 tornado in Jonesboro.

Connie Antilley had three homes damaged in the neighborhood, but through all the challenges, she found the silver lining.

“I want to say it was such an ugly, scary, horrible time, but at the same time, it was such a beautiful, peaceful time,” Antilley said. “We realized things really are not that important that it was your friends and relationship with God.”

Antilley was two miles from home, dropping a family member off at an assisted living facility in town, when she got a call from her daughter.

“She was saying, ‘mom, it is hitting right at us’,” Antilley said. “It is hitting right at the mall. I started praying over the phone. Then, I hear her scream, glass breaking, and the phone went dead and that was the last I knew.”

Meanwhile, her daughter, Jennifer Giddings, was bracing for a direct hit.

“I had to hold the closet door because it was just pulling it,” Giddings said.

Antilley frantically tried to get home.

“I didn’t know what I was going to find,” Antilley said. “As we approached the neighborhood and we saw the devastation firsthand, I did not know what I was going to walk up to when we got home.”

But when she made it to her house, her daughter was standing at the front door, holding their two dogs.

“It was very scary to hear the panic in her voice and to know that I was helpless,” Antilley said.

Antilley was so relieved that her daughter was unharmed, but she said emotions almost had to be put aside the first 24 hours.

“Calling insurance companies, calling adjusters,” she said. “You don’t feel like doing that, but you have to do it.”

Three weeks ago, Antilley finally got back into her original home after living out of boxes for a year.

“They repaired one and that was the one we’d move into while awaiting the repair of our home,” she said.

Walking through the neighborhood now, debris can still be found high up in the trees, but Antilley thinks about how her life has changed.

“It was an awakening,” Antilley said. “You know, just a real growth time and you know, it just changed my outlook on a lot of things, but I think for the better.”

Between all three houses, the damage was nearly $150,000.

Antilley said she is thrilled to be back in her home and ready to move forward.

To see other stories featured in KAIT’s special, “The Jonesboro Tornado: One Year Later,” click here.

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