GRIFFIN, Ga. — A daughter was mourning the loss of her mother and saying her final farewells when a tornado wreaked havoc in Spalding County. She believes when the storm struck, her mother was watching over her and her three children.
The funeral home in Griffin was crushed by trees as an EF-3 tornado blew through Thursday.
The people inside Peterson's Funeral Home said it was about 4:30 p.m. when the tornado hit. They were watching the rain; they couldn't see the tornado -- but they could hear it.
"It was howling. It was just different and I knew then, something just said 'run'," said LaDamiun Raines, chief of staff at the funeral home. "Once we turned that corner, as we were turning it, the tree was coming in on us and windows busting out. It was scary," he said.
Raines said there were about 20 people inside.
"We had a family that was viewing their loved one," he said.
Jessica Hardaman's mom passed away last weekend. She and her three children were there when the tornado hit.
"The lights went out first and then we heard a loud noise and everybody started running," Hardaman recalled. "My whole family started running. Some of us fell but they did get us to safety."
They ran to rooms in the back to seek shelter. Minutes beforehand, they were praying for someone's soul. At that moment, they prayed for safety.
"I'm just thankful that none of us were hurt," Hardaman said– shaking her head and crying.
Everyone inside the funeral home was OK including about a dozen of Hardaman's family members and workers.
"We could've died," she said.
For three hours, they stayed back there.
"I didn't know it would happen like that. I was scared," Hardaman's 12-year-old son Terrance said.
It was dark, they couldn't see anything. However, Hardaman said someone was watching.
"I think my mom was looking after us," she said.
Searching for comfort in the chaos– finding it in her guardian angel.
"We were there with her," Hardaman said.