A Riverside teen ran to his neighbors home after the roof on his family's home collapsed during one of the Memorial Day tornadoes.

Stories of survival: ‘I got my rosary and my husband’s urn and just prayed’

Each of the homes on the left and right of 83 Nimitz Road were unoccupied when Monday’s EF-4 tornado tore through Riverside, but that unit where five people live was the only one of the four that lost its roof.

Virgil Bowling and three kids, ages 16, 12 and 6, were inside crouched in a hallway when the roof above them caved in, Bowling said. His fiance Jamie Thies was at work.

RELATED: How to help others in tornado

“We got very lucky, believe it or not, because the roof fell in right where we were at,” he said. “For everything not to come in on us, it was a miracle. Someone was looking out for us up there.”

»RELATED: Trotwood tornado damage: 59 homes destroyed

A few houses down Nimitz road, the straight path the tornado followed, Sharon Cross was crouched in a closet while her 16-year-old grandson, a friend of Bowling’s 16-year-old son, took cover under a desk.

Four people were inside a house on Nimitz Road in Overlook Homes when the roof caved in.
Photo: Staff Writer

“I got my rosary and my husband’s urn and just prayed. It was the awfullest feeling you could imagine. That house felt like it was being lifted off the foundation,” Cross said.

She heard people screaming and glass breaking, and then there was a calm, Cross said. It was hard to tell just how bad the damage was in the dark.

»RELATED: Trotwood continues clearing paths into areas affected by tornado

“A little boy came running up the street, 16 years old, and he was holding his head screaming my house fell in, my house fell in…they had no roof, but everyone jumped in together to make sure everyone in this unit was okay,” she said.

Bowling and Thies immediately packed up as much as they could and moved it into storage and are staying with family members while they try to figure out a permanent replacement, but they also lost rugs, couches and many other items that were soaked in the rains following the storm.

“The man next door, his kitchen was pushed in, there was debris everywhere in his kitchen, and of course the man four units down lost everything….but all I had was a broken window, so I’m so thankful,” Cross said.

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