ATLANTA - Valerie Smith's six children were asleep in different parts of their home off Campbellton Road when Tropical Storm Zeta swept through metro Atlanta in late October. The huge tree that crushed a corner of the roof is still lodged into the living room downstairs and bedroom upstairs where her 11-year-old daughter became entrapped.
“it was around 4 a.m. the lights went off and I heard a big sound. Boom! And I jumped up like, ‘Oh, my kids!’ it was scary,” Smith told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner.
The children’s father, who was also inside, and neighbors rushed to help pulled kids from every corner of the home while smith scrambled to locate her daughter in the dark, under a web of tree branches.
“She was screaming and telling me she couldn't breathe and I’m telling her to hold on because mama's coming. I’m screaming for my babies. It was so terrifying. She was yelling, ‘Mommy, I'm right here, but I couldn't see her, so, I jumped in. and as I jump in, I’m sinking down too," Smith said as she stood in front of the home Tuesday afternoon.
Everyone eventually made it out unharmed and the Red Cross relocated the family from the North Avenue home they've rented for two years. The family stays in a College Park motel where Smith has tried to maintain some level of normalcy when it comes to virtual learning with children who range from kindergarten to eighth grade.
“They just recently logged back on because their computers were gone. So, I found a couple of computers, picked up another one from the school, but I just get up ahead of time early, fix breakfast and make sure all of them are logged on and ready to go. It can be frustrating, but I know we’re going to make it,” said Smith, clutching her three of six her children.
While the loss of clothing, furniture, and other items has been tough, Valerie said the lessons in faith and survival in the storm have been invaluable.
“Basically, you just have to have faith and trust in God. I mean, yes, I’m starting to run low on the money I had been saving and I still have a car note to pay, but I really believe it’s going to work out because I always trust God. I never doubt him. So, maybe there was a reason this was supposed to happen and maybe a bigger blessing is coming,” said Smith.