American Red Cross
This post is written by Danelle Schlegelmilch, a Red Cross worker who was deployed to Alabama to help with tornado relief.
Today I met the most courageous little boy I might ever meet in my life at a Red Cross shelter in Tuscaloosa, Ala. D’Monte Key is like any other 8-year-old boy; rambunctious, spunky and full of energy.
As he zipped passed me today in his tank top and flip-flops I didn’t notice anything unusual about him. It was only when he slowed down that I noticed little D’Monte was covered in stitches.
The same boy who was doing cartwheels through the aisles at the shelter today is very lucky to be alive. Just three days ago D’Monte’s world was literally turned upside down when a tornado sucked up his home and family. D’Monte and his family were running to the bathroom to take cover from the storm when their home started to shake off of its foundation and took off.
“The whole house went up in the air and we went up with it,” Nicco Key, D’Montes mother, said. “We were all flying around in different rooms, going up and down all over the place. I kept spinning round and hitting the walls.”
“I saw D’monte and he was going up higher into the tornado so I grabbed him and pulled him back down. The whole time I kept praying ‘Lord, take care of us’ over and over again. It felt like the blink of an eye, like a dream, and it was gone in 30 seconds.”
When asked what it felt like to be in the middle of a tornado, D’monte simply replied, “Bad…real bad.” His 7-year-old brother Kedavian added, “I saw the tornado. We were inside it. I looked up and I saw my brother was in the sky. D’monte was in the sky.”
When the home finally dropped from the sky it landed about 20 feet down the road and D’monte, his two brothers, mother and her boyfriend landed on the street below all with various injuries. The house destroyed along with their vehicles. D’monte was knocked unconscious and the most seriously injured.
His 13-year-old brother, Kevonte, threw D’Monte, who was covered with blood, over his own ripped-up back, and ran him down the street, through rubble and live wires, to the hospital. Miraculously, they all survived. D’Monte with dozens of stitches all over his face and body.
“I just thank God I’m still here and my family is all safe,” Nicco said. “The tornado didn’t touch the house next to mine, but it moved ours off the ground. But we made it and we are blessed for that.”
“I thank God for the Red Cross,” she added. “It has been great staying here. Everyone is so nice and we are treated right. It is also good to be able to talk to others about what happened to us. That really helps us cope.”