Vilonia: A Family Survives, Man Dies Protecting Daughter

VILONIA, AR -- One of the hardest hit areas in Vilonia is the Parkwood Meadows subdivision of about 50 homes off Naylor Road. It's now the location of some amazing stories of survival and tragic tales of loss. 

Matt Cobb, 17, and his family hid in a small space under a mattress as the powerful tornado ripped through. 

"I thought I was gone," Cobb said. "I thought we were about to just fly away."

Their home was reduced to rubble, but Matt and his family somehow survived.

A block over, Glen Michel, his family and 14 neighbors rode the tornado out in a storm cellar. 

"Like 10 freight trains going by," Michel said of the sound of the tornado. 

After the noise stopped, he peeked out to get a look.

"I shut the door back, turned around, looked at my wife, I said, 'babe the house is gone.'"

But there was no time to comprehend the loss. People needed help.

"I came out, jumped on top of those two houses across the street," Michel said. "I could hear people hollering."

Sadly, not everyone could be saved. Just a few doors down, Dan Wassom, an airman with the Arkansas Air National Guard, died laying over his 5-year-old daughter - saving her life. Monday, friends and family put up an American flag in his memory. 

With the power behind this storm, it's a wonder anyone survived. The twister ripped door handles off some vehicles and left others upside down. Now, heavy machinery is taking on the daunting task of trying to clean up while, at the same time, survivors are searching through wreckage trying to salvage whatever they can. 

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