Trooper’s daughter recalls horror of tornado sucking up family home

A horrifying tale of how the storm picked up the family home and slammed it in the ground 50 yards away
Alabama State Trooper Robby Burroughs
Alabama State Trooper Robby Burroughs(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Updated: Mar. 6, 2019 at 4:34 PM CST
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BEAUREGARD, AL (WSFA) -Wednesday morning started with a prayer. Then, it was time to get to work about 10 miles away, the site where Sunday’s tornado delivered a knock out punch on Lee County Road 40 in Salem.

Volunteers with Samaritan’s Purse rolled in with the single goal of easing the pain a bit for the family of Alabama State Trooper Sgt. Robert “Robby” Burroughs. It was a mission a former Marine, a veteran disaster relief volunteer wanted to get done.

‘"We’re actually moving their lives out in the streets, and we want to be sensitive about that," said Glenn Stover, a Samaritan’s Purse volunteer who was helping with clean up efforts.

And watching it all unfold was Ashley Martin. “It just doesn’t seem real,” she admitted. “Just crazy what a storm can do."

Martin is Trooper Burroughs’ oldest daughter. She tells a horrifying tale of how the storm picked up the family home and slammed it into the ground 50 yards away. Her parents and younger sister were still inside hanging on for dear life.

“They were sitting in the closet and dad was holding on to her, and she was holding on to my little sister, and my little sister had her puppy in her arms, and she said that dad stood up. I don’t know what he was doing, but he stood up. She said it looked like he was just jumping. He just went flying,” Martin explained.

Martin isn’t sure how long her dad will remain hospitalized, but he is said to be walking again. That’s great improvement after spending time in the Intensive Care Unit at nearby East Alabama Medical Center with broken ribs, stitches, and a fractured L1 vertebra in his lower back.

Burroughs is expected to make a full recovery. And just as surprising, his wife, young daughter and dog also survived without major injury. The same can’t be said of his patrol car, though after being hit by the powerful EF-4 twister’s 170 mph winds.

“I am just so grateful they are here to help," Martin said of Samaritan’s Purse volunteers.

For much of Wednesday, Martin watched a mighty dose of compassion in action, “and so that touches me,” said Stover.

The work is only the beginning for volunteers like Stover, and so is the healing for the Burroughs family. United by tragedy, bound by kindness.

“And it talks about God’s providence," a volunteer told Martin, who still believes in miracles. She witnessed one Sunday afternoon and Wednesday.

“I believe in prayer,” she said.

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