Joplin resident explains how he survived Sunday's tornado - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Joplin resident explains how he survived Sunday's tornado

JOPLIN, MO (KLTV) – Matthew Bittinger, a resident of Joplin and son-in-law to KLTV's own Kerri Compton, explains how he survived the tornado, including where he was when the roof of his apartment was blown away.

Bittinger grew up in Montana, so he'd never seen a tornado before Sunday night. He says he was excited at the possibility of seeing one.

"I had the radio going listening to where the funnel was, because I was actually on my porch looking for it. But I didn't think it would actually hit where I'm living, you know, and I'd be in it," explains Bittinger.

Bittinger explained that when the sirens in town went off for the second time, he grabbed his phone and some pillows and jumped into his bathtub. At first he heard debris and rain, but then things got worse.

"Then you could hear ripping sounds, and tearing sounds, and it tore the roof off of my apartment. And you can feel stuff landing on top of the pillow. You could feel bricks or whatever landing all over the place," says Bittinger.

Bittinger says he could feel the wind pulling him, but he just pressed himself against the sides of his tub. When it was over, he made his way outside and couldn't believe the damage all around him.

"The Walmart that we live behind was completely annihilated. A big hole right through Walmart. There are cars flipped over and cars on top of each other. The Home Depot right next to it was demolished. You're driving through and there's sheet metal wrapped around trees and debris everywhere," says Bittinger.

Bittinger says that he still can't believe he, and all his friends, lived through last night's tornado. But his excitement about seeing one is gone. He says he's trying to speak as often as possible with his wife, who's in Texas, but several cell phone signals in Joplin are very week because several cell towers were destroyed.

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