Union University alumni relives terrible tornado on 10th anniversary

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JACKSON, Tenn. - - Over a dozen college students trapped under piles of rubble. It happened ten years ago, today, when a devastating tornado tore through Union University, in Jackson, Tennessee. Miraculously, those students survived as most of the university's student housing was destroyed.

Then junior Kevin Furniss and 15 of his classmates were the students who ended up trapped under what may have been two tons of rubble. He was in the student commons when the tornado was spotted.

"I literally remember ducking into the bathroom, and within a split second of getting in there, I couldn't move," Furniss says, "You couldn't really see anything in front of you. Couldn't really move anything."

No one could get out, but they all caught a fortunate break.

"Luckily, one of the guys had a cell phone that had service. He called 911, let them know where we were, what building we were in," Furniss says.

What followed were hours of torment while first responders dug through the rubble.

"My roommate, Matt Kelly, is lying next to me throwing up, just in a lot of pain, " Furniss says. "During that time, we were crying, praying to God to rescue us. We began singing hymns even."

Rescuers finally reached the students.

"I remember them getting close enough where I could feel the cold air, and so I began punching my hand out through it," Furniss says.

Thankfully, everyone lived, but the tornado left a mark. Furniss had to learn to walk again. And while he made a full recovery, others did not.

"A couple of guys were on the soccer team, one was on the golf team. And those guys spent days in ICU and weren't able to play sports again," Furniss says.

Today, Furniss lives in Memphis and is grateful to have a wife and 2-year-old child. He calls what happened horrible, but the fact everyone lived is a "miracle."

"We feel like, the union students and the faculty, feel like it was the Lord's hand protecting our lives," Furniss says.

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