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He's 91. She's 84. A Husband And Wife Lose Their Home In Copeville Tornado

Stella M. Chávez
Joyce and Walker Mills survived the storm that totaled their home in the Collin County town of Copeville. Joyce, who's 84, said the tornado sounded like a "whole big gush of wind."

In rural Collin County, three people died during Saturday’s tornado outbreak. Part of the destruction happened in Copeville, east of Lavon Lake. A husband and wife reflect on their dramatic evening. 

Joyce and Walker Mills have lived in their brick home in Copeville for nearly 30 years. They said they’ve never experienced anything quite like Saturday’s tornado.

“I was sitting in the den and Walker had just gone to his bedroom to lay down to rest awhile,” Joyce said. “I was watching the weather and I had heard that it was gonna be bad here, but I was just sitting in the lounge chair in the den and all of sudden, I mean it just ..."

“I think it knocked me from out of the bed,” Walker said.

Joyce is 84; Walker is 91. They've been married 26 years. Doctors recently implanted a pacemaker in Walker. And he's still recovering from hip surgery -- he uses a walker to get around. 

They only suffered a few scratches from the tornado. Their home in Copeville was totaled. 

“Oh it sounded like a whole big gush of wind,” Joyce said.

“And roaring,” Walker said.

“Just roaring, Yes.” she said. “Wind just roaring.”

Credit Stella M. Chávez / KERA News
The Mills have lived in this house for nearly 30 years. Joyce is 84; Walker is 91. She was sitting in a lounge chair and he was resting in bed when the tornado hit their home.

There was no time to react and no tornado siren. It happened quickly – 15, 20 seconds, maybe.

“Glass started flying. The lights went out, it was dark,” Joyce said. “It was the most frightening thing I’ve been through and I’m 84 years old … I mean I just put my hands over my face and started praying.”

Walker and Joyce were found by his son, Gary, and three Collin County deputies. He was still in bed.

Gary Mills and his wife, Colleen, live next door to his dad. Their house was damaged, too – windows were blown out and part of the roof is missing.

Since the storm, the elder Mills' roof has caved in, making it unsafe to stay there. So for now, the couple is staying with Joyce’s twin sister in the nearby town of Lavon.


Credit Stella M. Chávez / KERA News
Colleen Mills and her husband, Gary, live next door to Joyce and Walker Mills. Gary rushed next door to help his dad and step-mother after the tornado hit.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.