WEEK/WHOI reporter becomes story after surviving Washington tornado

By Marshanna Hester

November 20, 2013 Updated Nov 20, 2013 at 4:08 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- One of our very own survived the Washington EF4 tornado.

WEEK/WHOI Reporter Beau Ebenezer, his girlfriend, Alyssa Valdez and their dog crouched in bathtub of their second floor apartment at Georgetown Common to shield from the destruction.

Beau said it was just in time.

"Within 30 seconds of getting into the tub, just this loud, wind coming our way. A lot of people say a freight train and I think exactly that," he recalled. "We felt a bang, bang, bang, a lot of noise, and things started falling down on top of our heads."

"You hear about tornadoes, see it all the time," said Alyssa. "But it wasn't until we were in the tub and it was shaking that I realized this was real."

The images are still vivid for Beau and Alyssa.

It's the first time back to their apartment complex since riding out Sunday's tornado.

In the midst of the destruction, Beau realized a brick sitting next to him.

"I reached around my head and I had all this blood on my hand," he said. "And that set in a whole another panic mode."

That injury required four staples.

To escape, the two had to jump from their apartment and that's when a nail went through Alyssa's hand.

"I just started screaming for Beau to help me and he just got my arm and yanked it out," she recalled.

Both survivors say neighbors also came to their rescue.

They immediately recognized one while visiting the site Tuesday and exchanged hugs and thank-you's.

Residents like Beau and Alyssa lost everything.

But while they and others wonder if they'll ever get to salvage personal items, the mystery is over for some.

"We just have to wait and come back again in the morning and wait and see if they let us in sometime tomorrow," said Joann Brown, Georgetown Common resident. "That's going to be the plan everyday until they just absolutely say you can't."

"I have tears in my eyes because I was able to go back into the rubble and get my bear," said Megan Apple. "I had it for 17 to 20 years, ever since my great-grandma passed away."

"It's great that the people with the homes can see what they have left but for the people stuck out here it makes the situation even more harder, knowing we can't find what you have left," said Beau.

Beau, Alyssa and their dog, Valentine, are staying with family while they look for a new place to live.

He says his girlfriend's worry about the storm made him get out of bed and take it seriously. He credits her for saving his life.