CANTON, Texas — According to National Georgaphic, tornadoes kill about 60 people each year. Scores of survivors are injured. Billions of dollars in property are damaged or destroyed.
Behind every statistic is a story of survival, loss and perseverance.
Cheryl Hughes will forever remember April 29, 2017.
RELATED: 4 killed in tornadoes identified
“We were sitting at home," Hughes remembered. "It was probably about 5:00 or so in the evening. And it had been raining on and off all day.”
Hughes and her husband Keny watched the rain pelt the ground as a heavy storm moved through the area. As time passed, the storm grew stronger.
“Thundering and lightning, you know, but I don't think it's anything out of the ordinary,” Hughes said.
The storm had knocked out both her TV and Internet. They were cut off from any weather reports.
"My husband went out on the back porch looking south, and he hadn't been out there, but just a few minutes,” Hughes remembered.
She came to meet her husband toward the backdoor.
“He didn't seem alarmed or frightened or anything," Hughes said. "He was just very matter of fact, and said, 'Turn around and get in the bathroom. We need to get in the bathroom now.'”
The couple had only precious seconds to spare.
“We sat down in the floor, and I didn't even have time to say, 'What did you see?'”
What Keny Hughes saw was an EF-4 tornado heading towards their home. Moments later, it was right over their heads. These would be the last moments they would spend together.
“He said, 'There goes the roof.' When the roof came off it picked up the house, I guess, and us too," Cheryl explained. “And I must have been hit with something right away because I don't remember anything else until I was at the neighbors up by the road.”
Cheryl and her neighbors would take refuge in a small closet. She had no idea of the devastation outside. In four hours, nine tornadoes struck the area, destroying everything in its path.
”They were like, 'You don't understand. It's not one or two trees. It's hundreds of trees down on that road,'” Hughes said.
When the storm had finally ceased, her neighbor took her to a triage unit set up at Canton High School. From their, she was taken to a hospital in Tyler.
She suffered spinal fractures and a broken ankle. However, the worst news was yet to come.
“They had found my husband and he didn't make it," Hughes said. "Your whole world just kind of goes dark.”
Nearly two years later, Hughes has rebuilt her home that she and her husband once shared.
Her life is regaining as much of a sense or normalcy as possible. However, the memories of a late-April evening will forever stay with her.
“No we weren’t prepared," Hughes explained. "I think we need to be more aware than we were in the past."
Hughes says she wants people to learn from her story and be prepared for the worst.
"Knowing where you're safe place is and getting there is very important,” Hughes explained. “Have the alerts on your phone.”
One thing she also says is add a storm shelter to your home and do not wait to take cover.
"We are very alert to watch the weather and we don't wait until it actually says tornado warning," Hughes said. "We don't wait until it says that if we feel the need to go in our storm shelter. We go.”
For all the preparations one can go through, tornadoes are still random and destructive forces of nature. They kill and destroy indiscriminately.
While that fact is somber, Hughes uses her faith to find solace in that fact. It is her faith that continues to comfort her through the fear and bad memories.
“Most of the time you don't think about this is going to happen. You don't think about this could be my last day here. Know where you're going when this life is over. That is the only thing that's gotten me through this," Hughes explained. "I know where my husband is. I know I'll see him again someday. And to me, that is the ultimate preparedness is to have that security in your heart.”
RELATED: Tornado levels Canton man's home