Archived Story

Couple thrown from home by tornado

Published 10:31pm Friday, April 29, 2011

On Friday afternoon Terri Fopiano stood amidst the wreckage of her parents’ Lake Martin home.

The house, located on Mountain View Way in Dadeville, was level, the destruction so severe it seemed impossible for anyone to have survived it. But Fopiano’s parents, Larry and Joyce Parks, did survive, although Joyce is still at Russell Medical Center recovering from injuries sustained during the storm.

“It’s just amazing they made it,” Fopiano said. “About 11:30 (Wednesday night) I got a call from someone named Nathan and he told me my parents’ home had been obliterated and they were digging my parents out.”

At that point, a tornado had been spotted near Fopiano’s home in Peachtree City, Ga., and she was ushering her children into their basement.

After the Georgia storm passed, Fopiano called some of her parents’ friends who live in their neighborhood. David and Rosa Wear attempted to reach the Parks’ house, but were unable to because of the debris littering the roads.

By that time, emergency workers had reached the Parks, after a neighbor heard Larry calling for help. Rosa Wear gave Fopiano a brief update that she received from a triage nurse.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, Fopiano got a call from Russell Medical Center, where her mother had been taken. Joyce Parks had four broken ribs and a nail impaled in the back of the leg. Other than that, the Parks were OK, but Fopiano began packing her suburban for an unplanned trip to Lake Martin.

It was only then that she saw the devastation and heard her parents’ incredible story.

Her parents were upstairs when the tornado hit. Like many areas, their neighborhood had lost cable and they did not realize a warning had been issued until it was about 15 seconds away.

“My father and my mother got in the hallway and they held onto the door facing and just like in a movie, they were flying sideways,” Fopiano said. “Then the door let loose and hit my father off the door facing. He remembers getting hit in the face with something and then they both blacked out. When they came to they were on top of the rubble, side by side on portions of the roof.”

Only a staircase and a few interiors on the bottom floor remained standing, some only partially. Friends and family had gathered at the Parks house to help with the cleanup. Pieces of the house were strewn down a hillside and into the lake.

Recovery of any item seemed unlikely, but on Friday afternoon, Joyce Parks’ wedding band was found in the rubble.