WNY Native Loses Husband, Home in Joplin Tornado

May 25, 2011 Updated May 25, 2011 at 11:30 PM EDT

By John Borsa

...
May 25, 2011 Updated May 25, 2011 at 11:30 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WBKW) - Orleans County native Sandy Baker is recovering tonight in a Missouri hospital after she survived the Joplin twister on Sunday and watched as her husband of 31 years die in her arms.

"I told him, I said -- 'Don't you leave me. Don't you leave me.' He wasn't talking and then he kind of gurgled a bit and then he was gone," Sandy said during a telephone interview from her hospital bed with Eyewitness News.

Sandy and her husband Bob, 54, were working in the garden outside their Joplin home on Sunday night when the tornado sirens went off.

Seconds later, deadliest tornado in nearly 60 years sliced through the city of 50,000, destroying their home. At least 125 people have been killed.

Sandy said she and her husband sought refuge in the bathroom.

"So we went in there and he hugged the toilet and so did I and we shut the door. And we heard it coming and you could just hear the house just fall apart. And I looked at him and I said 'We don't have a house anymore.' He said, 'Yeah, I know.' And you could hear it crashing and the walls crashing apart and the roof coming off," she said.

"Well no sooner did that happen, he went with the toilet out two walls and I didn't see him again until after it had calmed down. And it sucked me back out the bathroom door, down the hallway backwards and I ended up falling through a hole in the floor where it had ripped the floors up," Sandy said.

When the storm cleared, she called out to her husband. Bob was thrown several feet away.

"And he kept laying there and he was moaning and he said 'take my shirt off, take my shirt off.' Cause it was kind of wound around his neck a little bit. And his arm was kind of wound up in it," Sandy said.

"I said, 'Did you break your arm?' And he said 'I don't know.' So I took it off and it wasn't long after that then he just started shaking a little bit and he died. I mean, it was within two or three minutes. He just passed real quick."

It took her family several days to track down which funeral home Bob's body was taken to.

Sandy said her cat, which she took into the bathroom with her, died in the twister.

The family's dog, which went missing for two days, returned home safe and sound.