Brookhaven native, husband survive Magee tornado

Published 5:00 am Friday, March 27, 2009

MAGEE – The nightmare for one Magee couple began when they wokeup early Thursday morning to the terror of watching their housefall apart around them amid a swirl of howling winds and lashingrain.

Brookhaven native Cappy Giachelli and her husband Jeff wereasleep in their home near the intersection of Highways 28 and 545in Magee when they were suddenly awakened around 1:30 a.m.

“I’m not sure what woke me up,” Cappy Giachelli said. “It waseerily quiet for a minute and the next minute the walls wereliterally shaking. We just knew it was more than strong winds.”

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Jeff immediately recognized what they were witnessing was morethan the strong winds associated with typical Mississippithunderstorms.

He started shouting for her to move and the couple dropped tothe floor and began to crawl for the bathroom to seek cover in thebathtub. They barely made it to the floor before the house startedto collapse.

“The ceiling started coming down right where I was going,” Cappysaid. “I’ve never been so scared in my life. The whole house wasfalling down around us.”

The couple next sought shelter in a closet, but they were sooncut off from it as well and rode the storm moving from onetemporary hideout to another.

“We’re just grateful and blessed we’re alive,” she said. “Itcould have so easily gone the other way.”

When the wind had died down a little, the couple braved thecontinuing fury of the storm to walk through the rain and cold,climbing over fallen trees, to get to a neighbor’s house andsafety.

“We used to have a lot of trees. There’s not a single onestanding now,” Cappy said.

Today, the Giachellis are trying to determine how to put theirhome life back together again. An insurance adjustor totaled thehouse Thursday, but not before the couple had the chance to walkthrough the wreckage and survey what was left.

“The whole ceiling was laying on top of our bed the nextmorning,” she said. “There wasn’t much left. We’re just taking itone hour, one minute at a time.”

Fortunately, Cappy said, they’re not alone. They have received alot of help from family, friends and their community.

In the meantime, she said, they will look for a rental home inthe area until they decide whether to rebuild.

Cappy Giachellli is the daughter of Evelyn Furlow Summers, whoserved as Lincoln County 911 coordinator for a number of years, andthe late Benton Furlow. She was in the class of 1981 at BrookhavenHigh School.