Five children survive Texas tornado by hiding under mattress

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Omeka Ross was caught out on the road when a deadly Texas tornado hit, but all she could think about was getting home and making sure her five children were okay.

“All I was thinking about was if my kids were OK,” Ross told PEOPLE. “There was just so much running through my mind.”

When she reached the neighborhood, she and a friend found the whole area completely devastated by the tornado.

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“We were rushing and rushing to get there and we almost passed my street because the neighborhood looked so different,” she said. “The tornado had already hit.”

When she finally found her house, things looked bleak.

“Everything was destroyed. The garage was gone, the whole back of the house was gone, doors were blown off and all the windows were gone,” she said.

Desperately, she tried to find her children.

“We kept calling their names and calling their names and we didn’t hear anything,” she recalled. “Then we got to the bathroom, they had a mattress over them – they were all alive.”

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Ross’ five kids, aged 2 to 19, had hidden behind a mattress in the bathroom. Miraculously, the bathroom had survived the damage, and the kids were unharmed, though the youngest were crying.

Eight people were killed and 15 more were injured in the tornado in Garland, Texas, that destroyed 600 structures. Now, Ross’ family is seeking temporary refuge with the Red Cross until they can pick up the pieces of their lives and their home, but they are glad to be alive and to be together.