After an EF-3 tornado ripped through their home in Salado, Texas, the family of Vanessa and Joel Rios needs prayer. The storm put all of the family members in the hospital with serious injuries and even left 6-year-old Miriam Rios dangling from a tree unconscious. Now, the community comes together to pray and help get the family back on their feet.
When tornado warnings came in, Vanessa and Joel Rios loaded their family into their truck. They tried to leave for somewhere safer but soon discovered there was no escape. The pelting hail and horrendous conditions forced the Rios family to turn around and head back home.
A pregnant Vanessa Rios, her husband, Joel, and their two children, Miriam (6) and Ezra (1), huddled in their mobile home hoping to ride out the storm. Sadly, though, they sat directly in the path of the EF-3 tornado.
The deadly tornado reaching winds of 165 mph passed right over the Rios family’s mobile home, ripping it from its foundation. It tore the structure apart and tossed the family members around like rag dolls.
"(Their mom) remembers waking up, rolling over on her side, and seeing her daughter in a tree and she can't get up or do anything. She just rolled over and cried," recalled Vanessa’s brother, Stephen Perez.
Family Devastated By EF-3 Tornado
The storm completely destroyed the home. Both Joel and Vanessa Rios were tossed around inside.
Tragically, Vanessa suffered a miscarriage as a result of the incident. Though Joel Rios was buried under loads of debris, he used all of his strength to yell and wave for help. Passerby Blake Miller saw Jole and raced over to help him. But the father kept pointing and insisting he search for his family.
"You could tell he used every last bit of his energy and strength that he had, he just tried to get help for his family," Blake recalled. "That man was in pieces and he was still fighting for his family."
Blake found 6-year-old Miriam Rios dangling upside down and unconscious from a cedar tree. The EF-3 tornado had carried her hundreds of yards from her home. She was severely injured but, miraculously, still alive.
Blake also found the couple’s 1-year-old son, Ezra, in a field, covered beneath limbs and debris.
"I mean, I had to dig, probably three-feet into these trees and limbs that were everywhere," the Good Samaritan explained. "The little baby was underneath all of it. Underneath the whole pile."
Miraculously, he was alive. The little boy managed to suffer the least amount of injuries. And Blake Miller is just grateful the Lord used him to help this family after something so horrific.
"I don't think of myself as no hero or anything," he said. "It's something that the Lord blessed me with, to help people, and that's what I'm going to do."
Support For Family In Need
All of the members of the Rios family — Vanessa, Joel, Miriam, and Ezra — became hospitalized following the EF-3 tornado. 1-year-old Ezra was in the best condition. The others have undergone surgeries and poor Miriam remains in critical condition fighting for her life.
The community immediately began rallying around the Rios family. Donations pour in via a Go Fund Me page set up by Vanessa’s brother. Neighbors set to work in clearing the rubble and debris of what was once the Rios’ family home.
“We need to get this cleaned up,” said Mike Michaux, the owner of Solana Ranch where the family lived. “I don’t want them to come back to this. I mean, they don’t need to see this, honestly.”
Though the EF-3 tornado has taken so much from the family, they’ve managed to hang on to each other. And the amount of prayers, love, and support they are receiving is touching. The generosity has astonished Stephen Perez, the brother of Vanessa Rios.
“Seeing how fast Salado came together to donate diapers and formula for my sister, for her kids, and seeing how fast everything’s just developed over time…” he said of the community’s response.
The Rios family still has a long road of recovery ahead of them. Please be lifting them up, along with all of those who were impacted by this natural disaster.
We ask you, Lord, for the complete healing of Miriam Rios. And may your blessings fall upon this family who has suffered so much.
WATCH: EF-3 Tornado Devastates Salado, Texas — Leaves 6-Year-Old Fighting For Life
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