One of the Tornados that ripped through southeast Missouri on Friday hit a household with three children in it: Alanna Rackley (3), Avalinn Rackley (7), and Annistyn Rackley (9).
Their parents, Trey and Meghan Rackley, took refuge with their three daughters in their windowless bathroom, in a house they recently moved into on December 4, 2021. Meghan snapped a photo of the girls and sent it to her Aunt, Sandra Hooker, to show that they were in a safe place as the storm approached.
The photo shows the three sisters, two of which are snuggled together in the tub, smiling for the photo while the oldest, Annistyn, held her baby doll.
Hooker shared that it was fifteen minutes after she received that photo that a tornado ripped through her niece’s house, picking the entire family up into the air and spitting them out many yards away into a field. Trey, Meghan, Alanna, and Avalinn all survived. Tragically, the 9 year-old Annistyn, a third grader who enjoyed swimming, dancing, and cheerleading, did not.
“When they got the new house, we started talking about where are you going to go, what’s going to be your safe place,” Hooker shared in a video posted by the Associated Press. “They had determined that this interior bathroom with no windows would be their ‘safe place.’”
Hooker recalled her exchange with Meghan on Friday evening, saying, “I know that my text from 7:23 that night said, ‘[The tornado is] fifteen minutes away.’ And she texted back and said, ‘We’re in the bathroom.’”
“Her dad [Trey] told me that when the actual tornado hit that [one of the girls] had crawled up in his arms, and he had laid down on the bathroom floor on top of her, and Meghan was on the girls—the other two,” Hooker continued. “[When] the officers started responding, they got the children [and] got to Annistyn and put her on a makeshift stretcher to get her to the hospital. Deputies got the other children and Trey.”
Sandra said that “Annistyn, to me, was an angel walking among us—so many people felt that way about her too.”
Annistyn suffered from a rare liver disease called biliary atresia that required frequent doctors visits. But her condition didn’t keep her from doing the things she loved, like dancing and cheerleading. Hooker shared that her “special angel” would show her new moves she learned on TikTok, saying, ”She loved dancing.”
Annistyn’s favorite doll, which she was holding in the last picture her mother took of her, was found in a field near the Rackley home and given to Hooker.
“They brought Baby MawMaw to me [the name Annistyn gave the doll], and I’m cleaning her up so that Ava can have Baby MawMaw,” Hooker said.
When 7-year-old Avalinn got to the hospital, she told the doctors and nurses that while she was inside the tornado, she had prayed to Jesus to take care of her. “I was flying around in the tornado, and I prayed to Jesus to take care of me. And He spit me out and the tornado spit me out into the mud,” she said.
Hooker shared that Meghan is in the hospital with “catastrophic” injuries, including brain damage, broken bones, and a large cut.
Trey suffered cuts, bruises, and is sore. He remains in shock. Hooker said that Trey and Alanna were released from the hospital. Avalinn will have surgery this week for a broken vertebrae in her back.
“Our family believes in a God of miracles, and that is why we are here today, to ask God for a miracle…give us a miracle for Meghan,” Hooker said.
A Facebook fundraiser has been setup for the Rackley family. Over $129,000 has been raised in just four days.