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Kansas Tornado Survivor Shares Ordeal

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Kansas Tornado Survivor Shares Ordeal

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Kansas Tornado Survivor Shares Ordeal

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The victims of the tornadoes that ripped through Kansas last weekend are sifting through what is left of their homes. And during that process, one resident took the time to talk with us on the phone. Her name is Emma Faye Hargadine. She's a resident of Greensburg, Kansas, and we caught up with her as she and her two sons searched for two very small items.

Ms. EMMA FAYE HARGADINE: We're looking for my diamond rings that I had put on top of the dresser because I was going to bed. We're covered with all kind of insulation and water, so we're having a terrible task. My house is demolished.

INSKEEP: So there's no roof left, no walls?

Ms. HARGADINE: Oh, no. The roof went that night. There are some walls standing.

INSKEEP: Tell me about the rings you're looking for.

Ms. HARGADINE: Oh, one of them was my mother's diamond ring that she gave to me. It's close to 100 years old. And the other diamond ring was from my husband, who passed away in '70. And so they're both very dear to me.

INSKEEP: What else are you looking for besides those rings?

Ms. HARGADINE: Well, my son had traveled all over the world and he had sent me a beautiful collection of silver spoons, and we haven't been able to get in to that part of the house. And of course I had some money. We found all the money that I had squirreled away for vacation. And one other thing I haven't found yet is I just had an 80th birthday and they made a 80-year scrapbook. And I'm hoping to get in and be able to find it.

INSKEEP: This house that you're standing in now, were you inside that house on Friday night?

Ms. HARGADINE: Yes, I was. I am sorry to say I used very poor judgment and I did not go to the neighbor's house and I should have. They have a basement. And it was hailing so bad that I didn't think it would be any good to go out in that. So I waited until I heard the roar of the tornado, and then I tried to go from my bedroom to the bathroom. And when I opened the bedroom door, the roof came off and Sheetrock came down and hit my shoulders.

So I dropped to the floor and had a child rocker there that I hid my face in and a recliner that was over me. And I waited until the storm was over. And then I was finally able to see that I didn't have any broken bones or anything. And I saw a neighbor lady out walking with a light and I began yelling at her. And so two of the ladies came and they raised me out through the window.

INSKEEP: You tell that story so calmly. Were you calm when it was happening?

Ms. HARGADINE: No. I was praying the whole time. And I promised God that if he would spare my life, I would not become a whiner. I decided. And in the corner where I was trapped was a stand and I had 15 angels in that corner.

INSKEEP: Well, even under such terrible circumstances, it's delightful to know that you're okay and that you can talk with us.

Ms. HARGADINE: Well, I thank you for showing the interest. And I tell you, it's just absolutely - we're lost when we come to town. We can't believe it. I was city clerk here for about six years and I was in the courthouse 12 years, and I'm 80 years old and I'm so thankful to be alive.

INSKEEP: Well, thanks for sharing your story with us, and best wishes looking for the rings.

Ms. HARGADINE: Thank you very much.

INSKEEP: Emma Faye Hargadine of Greensburg, Kansas.

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