Peru tornado survivor shares eye witness account

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A Peru woman who was inside her van when a tornado hit is recovering at home after suffering a mild concussion.

Gladys Smith, 77, was parked outside Aldi near Main Street when the tornado struck Wednesday.

“I parked and it was raining harder and I thought, well, it’s dumb to get out of here, you know. So, I didn’t,” Smith said.

Smith was inside her van. She took her seat belt off because she wanted to wait until it stopped raining.

“I started opening my door and shut it back up and took off my seat belt and I looked down and saw all that water swirling and that’s the last I remember,” Smith said.

An EF-1 tornado damaged parts of homes and buildings in the area. It snapped trees and damaged several cars, including Smith’s. She is glad she stayed inside her van and that she doesn’t remember anything about the twister.

“I’m glad I wasn’t awake. I’ve got heart problems and I think I would have (had) a heart attack, if it was all over the parking lot,” Smith said.

Smith was taken to Dukes Memorial Hospital. She said her doctor told her that the van had to be turned back over to get her out.

“I think God was perched on my shoulder,” Smith said.

Smith suffered bumps, cuts and bruises. She also suffered a mild concussion, but is getting better.

“I just thank God for being there with me ’cause he had to be,” Smith said.

Smith visited Aldi after she was released from the hospital. She wanted to see her van, but it had been taken away. Smith’s family took pictures of her van and that is how she saw how badly it was damaged.

“It’s scary when you think about it. If I’d stepped out, I would have died. I’m sure,” Smith said.

Aldi opened for the first time Friday morning. Meanwhile, crews continue cleaning up the tornado damage. The mayor said they have made significant progress, but doesn’t know how much everything will cost.

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