LADY LAKE, Fla. – Roger Jardine said the only reason he and his wife, Pam, are alive is “by the grace of God.”
The Jardines, who live part-time in Lady Lake, Fla., were both injured earlier this month when their double-wide mobile home was picked up during a tornado and slammed into a field.
The tornado ripped through the Lady Lake Mobile Home Park at about 3:40 a.m. Feb. 2.
“Pam and I were asleep,” said Roger Jardine, “but the lightning woke me up. There was continual lightning. Then we started hearing this noise. We got out of bed and were sort of huddled together in the hallway, and before we could think what to do next, we heard this roar, which sounded like a freight train. It sounded like we were right on the track.
“Then everything just collapsed,” he said. “The next thing I knew I was sitting on a pile of rubble and couldn’t see anyone around me. All I could see was destruction and I thought that I was the only one alive. Then Pam moaned and I realized she was right beside me. After a few minutes, I saw some people coming with flashlights and I waved them over. Our house was blown completely apart and we were blown out into a field with part of the house. I don’t know how many yards it was but it was a ways.”
Jardine said he doesn’t remember physically traveling through the air.
“I just remember being in the house and all of a sudden everything fell apart and the next thing I knew I was on that rubble,” he said. “It was an experience.”
Pam was taken immediately to the hospital, while Roger was taken a couple of hours later.
“We were in the same emergency room for a while,” said Jardine, “but they knew they had to transfer her to Leesburg Hospital. I was down having a CAT scan when they took her, and then they took me later that afternoon. We were in the same hospital in nearby rooms.”
When Jardine talked to his wife Sunday night she was feeling “a lot better” and they were optimistic she would be released from the hospital within the following day or two.
“Pam broke her nose and had some lacerations on her scalp, and we both have bruises and contusions all over us,” said Jardine. “I have a cracked vertebrae … I have to wear a back brace for six to 12 weeks probably.”
This is the fifth year the Jardines have wintered in Florida. The couple usually leaves Presque Isle shortly after Christmas and return in mid-May.
“The park that we live in is in central Florida … it’s not near any coast,” he said, “and this is the first time anything like this has ever happened to us. Two years ago they had a tornado brush by and it did a little bit of damage, but now, the street that we live on looks like a war zone.
“There were probably 30 homes completely destroyed,” said Jardine, “and another 30 to 40 with minor damage but are fixable. There was probably another 30 to 40 that didn’t have anything happen to them. They were missed entirely. On our street, there were 11 houses and all of them were destroyed, but we were the only two people who had to go to the hospital. It’s a miracle how many people didn’t suffer injuries. Unfortunately, the lady who lived right across from us was killed. She was the only fatality in our park.”
Pam’s sister, Candice Williams, is a teacher at Zippel Elementary School. Another sister called Candice at work to tell her about the Jardines’ ordeal.
“I was told that Pam was in the intensive care unit at the hospital, but was alive,” said Williams. “Since I was at work, I wasn’t even aware there had been a tornado in Florida much less that my sister and brother-in-law were affected by it. People said I should go home, but I knew there wasn’t anything I could do there, so I decided to get through the afternoon teaching and then find out what was going on when I got home.”
Williams said she “prayed a lot” for her family’s well being.
“I was scared … completely taken aback,” she said. “The following day I talked to Pam on the telephone and then I felt a lot better. She was in such hurt, but her spirit was wonderful. Very high spirit, very positive … very, very thankful she was alive.”
Jardine said he’s “feeling pretty good.”
“I’m lame and have to wear the back brace which is a little bit uncomfortable, but I don’t have to wear it at night,” he said. “Pam’s feeling better, too.”
The Jardines had replacement insurance, and will be staying with friends in the mobile home park while they build a new home.
“It looks like we can replace what we had and put a new one right there,” said Roger. “We like this area and this park. We have really good friends here, and don’t want to leave just because of what happened.”