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.”