Marion County woman survives Monday morning tornado

The early morning storms that ripped through the Pine Belt Monday dealt a powerful blow to a Marion County couple. This holiday season they'll be sifting through pieces of what's left of their home.

"This is a heck of a Christmas present and the work starts now," says Clyde Ponthieux

Around 8:30 a.m., Shirley Ponthieux was home alone on Pounds Road in Marion County when the winds started twisting up the metal around her.

Late Monday afternoon a National Weather Service survey confirmed an EF-1 tornado in Marion County. Officials estimate that the tornado had peak winds of 100 mph, a maximum width of 100 yards, and a path length of 3 miles. The survey indicates that the tornado tracked from 6 miles SW of Columbia at 8:19 a.m. and ended 5 miles southwest of Columbia at 8:25 a.m. 

Shirley Ponthieux says, "When I heard the noise I just got on the floor with the two puppies, said a little prayer and tried to get in touch with my husband. He was at the doctor's office."

"They had trees across the road so I couldn't pass and that really excited me quite a bit because I wanted to get home to see if she was alright," says Clyde Ponthieux.

Luckily Clyde found another route and rushed to his wife side, but soon the comfort of knowing she was okay faded into something else. "It was a very sickening feeling," Clyde says.

The wind had wrapped their home in a shroud of tin, sent steel beams through the roof, and even blew debris halfway up the pines. This isn't however the Ponthieux's first brush with Mother Nature's abilities.

"We moved up here to get away from the hurricanes and needless to say we're here during a tornado," Shirley says.

"There's a lot of things going through my mind right now...things I'll have to do to correct all of this," says Clyde Ponthieux.

Despite the damage to their home this holiday season...Clyde knows he has his greatest gift of all. "I'm thankful that my wife wasn't hurt... I'm thankful that we do have some of our home that's still here, and hopefully it can be repaired."

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