SALADO, Texas — On Tuesday evening, a tornado swept through a Salado neighborhood. The Dallas/Forth Worth National Weather Service confirmed a high-end EF-3 twister with max winds around 165 mph had moved through the area.
One Salado family's cat got whisked away in a matter of seconds. Knealie Califano heard there was a tornado nearby. She went outside to see how it was looking and knew something wasn't right.
"It was so still out here," said Califano. "There was nothing moving. I've lived in Texas a long time, so I knew immediately."
Califano quickly ran inside. Once she shut the door, it all went downhill from there.
"The glass blew out, and we saw the cat go out through the window," added Califano.
Califano's cat was sucked away. However, everything was happening so fast, and Califano's priority was to find a place to hide with her two young girls. Quickly, the three of them hid in a tiny closet toward the back of their house. She was holding onto her daughters so tight but could feel them being pulled away.
"I just kept praying," she added. "I kept praying for protection and for weight. I was like, I wish I weighed more, like, I was trying to just pin them. I was thinking about my old wrestling moves, honestly. All the points of contact to try to make myself as big as I could at that moment."
Califano couldn't help but get emotional when talking about what she lived through on Tuesday. Everly Califano, 7, said it was the first tornado she's ever lived through.
"We were screaming," said Everly. "We were sending prayers. I didn't even know what to do. My mom and my sister were just terrified."
The Califano's said the closet they were hiding in was so small. They were getting hot and eventually migrated to the bathtub that was right by them.
That's when their dad was finally able to get back home from work and gave his daughters the biggest hug.
"They just melted into his arms," said Califano.
Their reunion was full of tears of fear but also happiness. Now that they're all safe, Wednesday was dedicated to cleaning up and getting their house to how it was before.
"My dad built this house for us," said Califano. "So, to see it go from, you know, ground up to then you see the studs again, you're not supposed to see the studs anymore. So it's surreal."
While they work on cleaning up, Everly said they'll be staying at her grandma's house. It could be two to three months before they return home.
In the meantime, the good news is they were able to find their cat, Dobby. Califano said Dobby found his way back home on his own. He was in her daughter's room sitting on top of the bed.
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