A quick-thinking, well-prepared mom averted a family tragedy when she hustled her two young daughters to safety just moments before tornado whipped through their home in northern Texas on Tuesday.
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Speaking on TODAY via satellite from Arlington, Texas, on Wednesday, Lisa Rebstock told Ann Curry she had prepared an emergency storm kit just a week before, and managed to get 3-year-old daughter Abigail and 7-month old Alayna to safety in the bathroom just before the twister damaged their home in Kennandale.Video: Why has this tornado season been so intense? (on this page)
"It was the most terrifying thing I have ever been through," Rebstock said. "I grabbed onto both kids so hard; I had no idea what was going on.
"When it hit our house, I heard a loud thud, a crash, and all of a sudden, wind was coming through the house. I couldn't see anything ... but I held onto those girls, put a pan over their heads, blankets, and just prayed."Video: Roker: Worst over for Dallas area (on this page)
The Rebstock family was one of many hard hit by the six to 13 twisters that touched down in Texas Tuesday at the peak of tornado season. While authorities reported numerous injuries and potentially millions in damages, no fatalities have been reported.
Rebstock, who appeared on TODAY with her girls and husband Ben, saw firsthand the damage a tornado can cause — and just how close her family came to calamity. After the storm passed, she inspected her home: Glass shards were strewn all over the living room, and a neighboring home's roof had blown off and slammed into her garage door.Story: Mom who saved kids from tornado: ‘It was instinct’
Ben was at work as the tornado approached, and Lisa had to think fast as she learned the severity of the situation. "I saw on the news that something was coming, and I had about three minutes to get inside. I went into the bathroom with the girls ... about three minutes later, it hit our house."
Fortunately, Lisa had assembled emergency supplies. "I had baby bottles, I had diapers, I had snacks, flashlights — everything I needed to last me a day if I needed to," she told Curry. "And we used a lot of that stuff in that kit. Thank God I had it planned and thank God we got in (the bathroom) at the time we did."
Meanwhile, husband Ben was unaware of his family's harrowing ordeal, he told Curry: He was in a late morning meeting that stretched into lunchtime.Story: Man who sheltered tragic twister family: Thought my home was safer
"We didn't learn about the storm until about 1 o'clock, which was after it came and hit the house," he said. "I ran and got my phone and got a hold of her after a few minutes — there was pretty bad cell service yesterday."
As a native Texan, Ben was accustomed to the wicked weather that sometimes visits the Lone Star state. But he feared for his wife, a Massachusetts transplant, and their children.Video: Survivor: Tornado was ‘most terrifying thing’ (on this page)
"She's only been here for a few years ... she's been through one or two (storms), but nothing like what we had yesterday," he told Curry.
"She remembered from some of the stuff we had talked about on a couple of other storms that had come through, and I'm very happy she put the plan in action, followed it through and kept everybody safe."
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