Missouri’s little girl, who witnessed a tornado destroy her family home and kill her older sister, her mother, and break her vertebrae last week, took her first steps this Thursday. She is now learning to walk again. 

Avalinn, 7 years old, started a steady, slow walk across her hospital room with a walker, neck brace and neck brace. This was after she had undergone successful surgery Wednesday. Family members cheered on her as she found some hope in their tragic circumstances. 

‘Good job! As they recorded their steps, they were heard exclaiming “Good job!” I love you. 

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital employees assisted the 7-year old at Memphis’ facility. The smiley, resilient girl was beaming. Avalinn seemed a bit tired from the exercise so a relative asked: “What’s wrong darling?” 

When she was asked what the extraordinary girl meant, she replied “Nothing” and continued her walk. 

Sandra Hooker, Avalinn’s great-unt, said that Avalinn ought to be back home with her grandmother this weekend as relatives pray for miracles for Meghan Rackley (32), who has suffered a serious brain injury and is still fighting for her life. 

A photograph of Avalinn Rackley, her sister Annistyn, 9 and Alanna, 3 taking shelter in their bathroom caught the attention of the country. More than 30 tornadoes decimated three states including Kentucky and Missouri last week and killed at least 88 people. 

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Avalinn Rackley, 7, got up and began talking her first steps

The resilient girl said nothing was wrong as he began her physical therapy

Avalinn Rackley (7 years old) took her first steps to learn to walk after breaking her vertebrae in a tornado that ravaged her Missouri house last week. She was critically injured and her sister died.

The remarkable girl has maintained a smile and given hope to her family after their tragedy

After her tragedy, this remarkable young girl managed to smile and give hope to her family.

Avalinn, left, was with her older sister Annistyn, 9, holding a doll in the bathtub, and little sister Alanna, 3, taking shelter in their bathroom when one of more than 30 tornadoes destroyed their Caruthersville home. Annistyn was killed in the tornado

Avalinn, left, was with her older sister Annistyn, 9, holding a doll in the bathtub, and little sister Alanna, 3, taking shelter in their bathroom when one of more than 30 tornadoes destroyed their Caruthersville home. Annistyn, her older sister Annistyn, was struck by a tornado and died. 

The entire Rackley family was flung from their home during the devastating storms. (Pictured left to right: father Trey holding Avalinn, Annistyn, and mother Meghan holding Alanna

During the terrible storms, Rackley’s entire family fled their home. (Pictured from left to right: mother Meghan holding Alanna and father Trey holding Avalinn. 

The family home was among the hundreds leveled after a series of tornadoes struck five states last week

After a string of tornadoes that struck five states, the family’s home was one of many destroyed.

A tornado struck the Caruthersville homes of Meghan and Trey. The girls, along with their parents Meghan (37 years old), were flung into the field by one of the storms. Annistyn was killed and Avalinn and Meghan severely wounded.  

Trey, Alanna and Alanna were treated for less serious injuries. They have since been discharged from the hospital. 

Meghan was in a coma after falling into severe brain trauma. She was admitted to St. Louis hospital and her family stated that she is able to move on Thursday but still needs a miracle. 

Hooker stated that Avalinn is doing fine and that the doctors had removed one of her two back drains from Wednesday’s operation. 

Pamela Moore posted a photo on Facebook about her 7-year old granddaughter’s session with physical therapy. She wrote: “This little girl is the most brave.” She is loved by everyone at the hospital. 

She has always been strong. It is clear to me that Anni, her older sister, is there for her. You can sense it. 

Avalinn kept a positive attitude and gave her families a thumbs up before undergoing back surgery on Wednesday

Avalinn maintained a positive outlook and gave her family a thumbs-up before she underwent back surgery Wednesday. 

The success of the surgery allowed Avalinn to start walking

Hospital workers helped the young girl through her physical therapy

Avalinn  began learning how to walk again after completing back surgery on Wednesday

Family members said the 7-year-old would be able to go home by the weekend with her grandmother

According to family members, the seven-year-old will be able go home with her grandmother by Saturday.

Avalinn's recovery comes as good news to the family after the death of her sister, Annistyn, pictured

The family is happy to hear that Avalinn has recovered after Annistyn died.

Lani, aged three, was discharged from hospital on Sunday evening

Three-year-old Lani has hairline fractures of her vertebrae, but is expected to make a full recovery

Lani, three years old, was discharged on Sunday evening from the hospital

Mother Meghan Rackley, 32 (pictured), suffered a brain injury, large cut and several broken bones. The family is asking the community to keep her in their prayers

Father Trey Rackley, 37 - who suffered cuts and bruises - and the youngest daughter, Alanna, 3, (pictured together) have been released from the hospital

Mother Meghan Rackley (32), suffered from a brain injury and several fractures. It is the family’s request that everyone keep Mother Meghan Rackley in their thoughts and prayers. Father Trey Rackley (37), who sustained cuts and bruises, and Alanna (3), have both been released from hospital.

Grandfather Chuck Rackley said Meghan moved for a bit on Thursday and prayed for her recovery

Chuck Rackley’s grandfather said Meghan moved a little on Thursday. The family prayed for her healing.

The family was located by emergency responders who took them to the nearest hospital. Avalinn said that he had been flying in the tornado, so he asked Jesus for help. He did and then the tornado tore me into the mud. 

Hooker explained that Annistyn had been holding the doll in the photograph after they held a prayer vigil. 

Hooker claimed it to be Annistyn’s favourite, calling it Baby MawMaw. 

“They brought Baby MawMaw with them to me. I am cleaning her up.” [Avalinn]Can have Baby MawMaw,” she stated. 

It is continuing to support the family by creating a crowdfunding page that will help pay for funeral and medical expenses.

Annistyn’s loved ones recall that she was always happy and energetic despite having been fighting a rare liver condition in which the bile ducts do not develop correctly.

Her cheerleading contests were often dressed in cute costumes. She also practiced cartwheels as well as the splits. And she learned new TikTok dancing moves.

Hooker called Hooker a special angel’ 

Hooker, pictured showing drawing by Annistyn, said she's hopeful for Avalinn and Meghan's recovery

Hooker is pictured showing Annistyn’s illustration. She said that she was hopeful for Meghan’s and Avalinn’s recovery.

Hooker found one of Annistyn's favorite dolls, Baby MawMaw, in the wreckage of their home

Hooker discovered Baby MawMawMaw in their wreckage and gave it to Annistyn. 

A vigil was held for the Rackley family on Sunday night and volunteers helped salvage the family's belongings

On Sunday, a vigil was held in support of the Rackley family. Volunteers helped to salvage their belongings.

The Rackley girls (from left) Avalinn, Alanna and Annistyn posing for a family Christmas photo

Avalinn Rackley, Alanna, and Annistyn pose for a Christmas family photo

Trey Rackley poses with his daughters

Annistyn poses in a recent family photo for Christmas

Rackley Family in Times of Need has a crowdfunding page. 

Tornadoes also roared through both the Missouri and Illinois sides of the St. Louis area, as well as the Memphis, Tennessee, area and parts of Arkansas and Illinois. A candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky (pictured), and an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, Illinois, were hit

Also, tornadoes roared through the St. Louis, Missouri, and Illinois areas, along with parts of Arkansas, Tennessee and Illinois. The tornadoes also struck a Mayfield, Kentucky, candle factory and an Amazon facility at Edwardsville, Illinois.

The storm left a trail of wreckage in its wake that stretched from Arkansas, where a nursing home was destroyed, to Illinois, where an Amazon distribution center was heavily damaged

A trail of destruction was left by the storm, which spanned from Arkansas (where a nursing home was completely destroyed) to Illinois (where an Amazon distribution centre was severely damaged).

The aunt stated, “I would gasp because she could perform the splits all of the time and she would just smile,” “She was a great dancer.” 

Hooker, a mother of Trey and his younger sisters, has requested that the entire community pray for Trey’s family.

KAIT 8 was told by her family that they believe in a God who performs miracles. “To pray to God for a miracle, and for Meghan.    

“The loss is exponential.” Mandi Alexander, Meghan’s longtime friend, said, “There are no words.”  Annistyn was bright. She was the most popular child. She was also the most strong child. 

One of the many families that were devastated by storms was the Rackley family. All of the Brown families lost their lives in Kentucky when the tornadoes were the most severe. 

The Brown Family – Four children, their grandparents and parents – These were found dead after the storm left the tidy homes on the Moss Creek Avenue cul-de-sac reduced to mounds of lumber and rubble, with residents’ belongings spewed across the street.  

Victoria Smith (64-year-old Brown family Matriarch) was discovered dead in a field nearby.

Smith’s 36-year-old daughter Rachael Brown; Brown’s 35 year old husband Steven and Nyles Brown, the youngest of the two children, were found near their home by Cierra Bryant. 

Nariah Brown (16 years old) and Nolynn Brown (10 years old), were found by the couple in a nearby creek. Police said that Nyssa Brown (13-year-old) was found by the couple about 25 miles southeast of their family home.

Bryant explained that there was no thing they could have held on to, and nothing they could have done to protect themselves. Everything is gone. 

Five others were killed by Friday’s hurricane in the Besic family. It lived two doors below Browns. 

The storms caused severe damage to the home located between two houses. However, the conditions of those living there appeared to be good. 

‘It’s hard to believe that mother nature could be so cruel,’ rescuer Jeffery Bark, 36, told DailyMail.com. “I saw stuff I didn’t see since wartimes – body parts, intestines and stuff you wouldn’t expect in your own home but in peace time.

Bark and his dog Chichi, 2, have been aiding in search and rescue of the community all week.

He said, “It’s heartbreaking to watch infants die,”

Rachael Brown, 36, and Steven Brown, 35, are pictured with three of their kids (from left: Nolynn, Rachel, Nyssa, Nariah and Steen). Rachel and Steven were found dead after a tornado ripped through their Bowling Green, Kentucky neighborhood. Their daughter Nariah, 16, and sons Nolynn, 10, and Nyles, 4, were also killed

Rachael Brown (36), and Steven Brown (35) are shown with their three children (from left to right: Rachel, Nyssa and Nariah, Steen, Nolynn and Rachel). After a tornado struck their Bowling Green neighborhood, Steven and Rachel were killed. Nariah (16 years old) and Nyles (4 year-old), were both also killed in the tornado that ripped through their Bowling Green, Kentucky neighborhood.

As seen from Thursday Dec. 16, 2016, this is a view of the Brown family house that was destroyed

Officials confirmed Nyssa¿s (pictured) death Thursday afternoon after she had been was missing since Saturday

The location where Nyssa Brown's body was found

Nyssa (left) was confirmed dead by officials on Thursday after being reported missing from Saturday. The family house was located about 25 miles southeast of where she was last seen (right).

An aerial view of Bowling Green, Kentucky showing where the Besic (far left) and Brown (far right) family homes once stood

Aerial view of Bowling Green (Kentucky) showing the location where once lived the Brown and Besic families homes (far left).

The above map shows where the Brown and Besic families' homes were located in Bowling Green, as well as where officials found Nyssa Brown's body

Above map shows the location of Brown and Besic family homes in Bowling Green. It also indicates where Nyssa Brown was found by officials.

Alisa Besic and her three children died in a storm two houses below the Browns. Alisa held the baby in her hands and they were both found hiding behind their homes.

Selveta, Alisa’s sister in law, said to the Courier Journal that Alisa has left behind a 2-year old boy.

Selmir Besic (age 6), and Samantha Besic (age 1 year) also died in the Besic large family. 

One of the twins, Alisa is married to one of them, has lost both of their children.

Selveta noted that her brothers and their younger 25-year-old sister, who is likely paralyzed, are among four Besic family members being treated for life-threatening injuries at hospitals in Nashville, Tennessee.

Selveta explained that they were simply shocked. “One moment you are alive, playing with them for 15 minutes and the next they disappear.”  

Steven Brown is pictured with Victoria Smith, the 64-year-old matriarch of the Brown family. Victoria was also killed in the storm. Her body was found in a field near the neighborhood

Steven Brown and Victoria Smith (64-year-old Matriarch of Brown Family), are pictured. Victoria died also in the storm. Victoria’s body was also found in the field next to her home.

All four of the Brown children were killed in the storm (Pictured from left: Nyssa, Nariah, Nolynn, and Nyles Brown)

All four of the Brown children were killed in the storm (Pictured from left: Nyssa, Nariah, Nolynn, and Nyles Brown)

Also, tornadoes roared through the St. Louis, Missouri, and Illinois areas, along with the Memphis, Tennessee area, and portions of Arkansas, and Illinois. The tornadoes also struck a candle factory in Mayfield in Kentucky and an Amazon facility at Edwardsville in Illinois. 

Six Amazon employees were killed in an Illinois tornado that destroyed a warehouse. A Navy veteran was also among them.

Amazon worker Six were killed in a tornado that struck an Illinois warehouse on Friday night.

DailyMail.com photos show that Jeff Bezos hosted a huge party at his Beverly Hills house this weekend, in the wake of the tragedy.

Clayton Cope (29-year-old Navy Veteran) was one of the victims in the tornadoes that ripped through the St. Louis facility. The walls collapsed at 11 inches thick, making them more than 11 football fields high.

Rachel Cope, his sister said that she was angry at Amazon for not allowing its employees to seek shelter in an emergency after the sirens sounded.  

Cope said to DailyMail.com that he wanted people to understand that Cope died in saving lives by heeding the warnings of the tornadoes and choosing to work for Amazon over his employees. 

“My brother is an hero.”  

Austin J. McEwen (26) was killed trying to shelter from the tornado as a Amazon cargo driver.

Deandre Shawn’ (28), from St. Louis Missouri; Kevin D. Dickey 62 of Carlyle Illinois; Etheria A. Hebb 24 of St. Louis Missouri; Larry E. Virden 46 of Collinsville Illinois.     

Many warehouse workers said that they are concerned about Amazon’s cell phone ban. It was temporarily lifted in the event of pandemic.

After a tornado decimated Edwardsville workers, their fears were magnified.

According to blue collar workers, they were concerned that a reintroduction of cell phone bans would make it impossible for them to check weather updates or call for assistance in times of emergency.

“After these deaths there is no way I’m relying Amazon to keep my safe,” one worker in an Amazon facility in Illinois told Bloomberg.  “If they make no phone calls policy, I’m resigning.”

According to another worker, she wouldn’t lock her mobile phone at work if it wasn’t necessary. 

According to her, she said that she doesn’t trust anyone with my safety. She said, “If there is severe weather coming, I feel I should be in a position to make my own decisions about safety.” 

Cope, who was just moments away from his death, called his dad to inform him that his colleague were coming back to the warehouse looking for shelter.

She said, “And that was when the building fell.” 

On Facebook, his sister vented her anger at Amazon and demanded that Amazon provide answers.

She said, “Everyone knows that Amazon only cares about productivity.” ‘My brother never would have died if this company actually gave 2 sh*** about their employees and got them to safety after the storm started to get bad and took it seriously.

“This would never have happened if people cared more about their lives than productivity, and that is what you know. 


In Mayfield, where tornadoes leveled and destroyed homes on nearly every block, a pregnant mother lost her baby  after being picked up by the tornado.

“We were a family with five children.” Bobby Waldridge from Yahweh Baptist Church said that the family was in their home and had to be moved. 

The man said that the mother and four of her young children were found in a field just behind their house. The rubble buried her husband.

They all survived, but now face serious injuries.  

Waldridge stated, “I have seen many things in my life. From policing and ministry to ministry but this was the absolute worst.”

He added:  ‘The mother, she was pregnant also and she lost the child.’

There is still a sense of community despite all the tragedy. As they discover they have lost much more than their homes, strangers offer to help and everyone vows to support their neighbor.

Waldridge stated, “A lot of families don’t have the same luck as us right now being here. It’s just an enormous loss of loved ones here.”   

A Mayfield resident also shared her story of how she survived death crawling through holes to escape the destruction of her home, and then was reunited with her dog.

Deanna Badillo was with her friend, unnamed, in her North 6 Street house hallway when the twister entered the home and trapped them.

She described it as an “out-of-body experience” in which the couple crawled through a hole, and then out of the debris. 

My friend and I said that we both believed death was cheating. Badillo said to WTHR, “I think it’s due to God’s grace. I’m still here on this planet.” 

“I couldn’t see any…but what I felt, I don’t know how to explain it.” It’s impossible to describe what it’s like to be here, and then tell you about what I experienced.   

The woman also spoke out about how she was afraid that one of her dogs would be killed by the storm. However, a neighbor found her pup and gave her warmth and food until he located the owner. 

Badillo declared, “It is the small things that really matter.” It’s the little things that matter most to her.

According to her, finding her dog was an ounce of hope in the midst of an awful tragedy.   

Many families mourn the death of loved ones, even though some are sharing their stories, like Badillo who was effected by the storms.

Kentucky man keeps the last contact he made with his mother prior to Friday’s tornadoes that swept through Dawson Springs.

Billy West, of Madisonville, received a text from his mother, Marcia Hall, at 10.12pm reading: ‘I Love You’.

WFIE reported that 30 minutes later tornadoes hit Hall’s School Street residence. Carol Grisham was her sister.

After the storm, West ran to see his mom’s house in total destruction.

The next day, authorities located Hall and Grisham. 

“We discovered them Saturday morning, probably 75-100 yards away from the house, together,” West stated, noting that the foundation was all that was left of the house. 

He stated that the car sits now where once was the kitchen.

He said, “I think sometimes, Mom, if you’d just gotten in the car instead of the house …’.” “She might have been there, but God only knows. 

CNN reported that Hall had sent the exact same message to her children. 

Jason Cummins (one of Hall’s children) said he tried calling his aunt and mother after the storm but was unsuccessful.

He replied, “I only texted them later asking if they were okay.” I didn’t get any reply. It didn’t get through.

In his panic, he jumped in the car Saturday morning at 2.30 AM and drove 70 Miles to Dawson Springs with hopes that he would find them.

He recalled, “I just got there, and I just hollered.” “I hollered to them.” 

His search for the women ended in failure, so he went back to the same area again the next day. He and his family found the women.

Cummins said his mom and aunt were loved by their community.

According to him, everyone thought they were the best.

“They were sweetest and most caring people, always looking out for others before they themselves.”

Breeana, Breeana’s neighbor, said the same thing. “We talked to them everyday.

These sisters will be remembered at the funeral home in their hometown, where they used to give up their time helping others grieve.

On Monday, Kentucky parents revealed their two-year-old baby girl had died two days after they tried in vain to protect her and her siblings from a deadly tornado that ripped through Kentucky by hiding in the bathroom.

Oaklynn Koon was struck by the tornado and suffered from a stroke, swelling of her head, and neck injuries. After her mother had strapped her in her car in the bathroom and put her and her brothers into the bath, they covered their bodies with pillows and then moved to Dawson Springs. 

Billy West, of Madisonville, tells reporters how he received a text from his mother reading 'I love you' approximately 30 minutes before tornados ripped apart her Dawson Springs home Friday night. His mother and aunt were found dead the next morning

Billy West of Madisonville tells reporters that he got a text message from his mom reading “I love you” just 30 minutes before the tornadoes tore through her home in Dawson Springs. The next day, his mother and aunt were both found dead.

Carole Grisham (left) and Marsha Hall (right) were found together Saturday morning about 75-100 feet away from the house. Their children and neighbors say they were pillars in the community and will be greatly missed

Carole Grisham (left), and Marsha Hal (right) were found together at 75 to 100 feet from their house on Saturday morning. They will be missed by their children and neighbours.

“At the very least, you know who is watching out for you in heaven.” My dad. God, this isn’t real,” Jackie and Doug Koon posted on Facebook Monday to announce her death.

Oaklynn was strapped in her car seat, as she believed that this would provide her with the best protection.

Jackie posted the following Facebook post: “Nothing is… Scarier than hearing a tornado heading your direction and your children freaking out and thinking that we will die.”

As his daughter fought for her life, he said that it was the most traumatizing thing he’d ever experienced. “I felt powerless in protecting my children against it. 

Jackie revealed that her family went to Dawson Springs when the tornado struck.

Doug said that he saw his 4-year-old son screaming at MSNBC as the storm passed. Doug stated that the boy’s head was bleeding from a cut.  

Two-month-old Oaklynn Koon (pictured) died Monday morning after spending two days in the hospital battling injuries sustained during the tornado

The parents announced Oaklynn's death on Facebook on Monday morning

Oaklynn Koon was two months old and died Monday morning. She had spent the previous days recovering from the injuries she sustained in the tornado. Doug Koon (right), her father, has confirmed her death on Facebook.

Doug and Jackie Koon's 4-year-old son also suffered injuries during the tornado and required a CT scan

Jackie Koon and Doug’s four-year old son, Doug, also sustained injuries from the tornado. He required CT scanning 

Pictured left to right: Oaklynn, Dallas, Jackie and Doug Koon

Dallas Koon is pictured with his little sister, Oaklynn

Oaklynn’s death, aged two months, is a tragedy for the Koon Family  

As he searched through the rubble for family members, he said that he tried stopping the bleeding by shouting and moaning. He managed to stop all bleeding, get his family safe before the house of his mother in law was totally destroyed. After that, he ran to the hospital. 

Doug stated that his 4-year-old son needed a CT to check for brain bleeding. Oaklynn suffered from worsening symptoms overnight.

Jackie shared on Facebook that Oaklynn was being treated at a local hospital. They believe she may have suffered a stroke from her neck. 

Doug stated that machines were keeping her alive and her head was swelling really badly. She was incubated, and then transferred to another hospital.  

She passed away on Monday morning and is believed to be Kentucky’s youngest storm victim.   

The aerial photo above, taken on Dec. 13, shows the destruction left behind by Friday's storm in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, the town where the Koon family lived

Above is an aerial photograph taken Dec. 13 showing the damage caused by Friday’s tornado in Dawson Springs (Kentucky), the place where the Koon family lived.

The storm left a trail of wreckage in its wake that stretched from Arkansas, where a nursing home was destroyed, to Illinois, where an Amazon distribution center was heavily damaged (Pictured: Mayfield, Kentucky on Dec. 14)

It left behind a trail that ran from Arkansas where a nursing home was damaged to Illinois where an Amazon distribution centre was severely damaged. (Picture: Mayfield in Kentucky, Dec. 14).

Kentucky Governor. Andy Beshear warned that death could rise as authorities work to remove debris from the area, slowing down recovery efforts.

Nearly 500 National Guard troops have been activated in the state. 95 National Guard officers are looking for people presumed to be dead.

According to poweroutage.us in Mayfield, nearly 26,000 households and businesses across the state were without electricity.

According to Michael Dossett, Kentucky Emergency Management Director, more than 10,000 households and businesses were without water Monday. Another 17,000 homes are currently under boil-water advisory. 

The tornados blew residents’ personal belongings up to 130 miles away, with wind speeds of up to 40 mph

Katie Posten, of New Albany, Indiana, found a family photo on her windshield that was carried 130 miles in the storm

Incredibly, thanks to the inscription on the back, Posten was able to reunite the photo with the Swatzell family in Dawson Springs, Kentucky

Katie Posten from New Albany, Indiana found a photo of her family on her windshield. Through a Facebook appeal, she was able locate the Kentucky family 130 miles away in Dawson Springs.

Chris Kramer posted that he found a Veterans of Foreign Wars card circa 1993 belonging to a Marion Tolbert, that originated 100 miles away at Matthew Tolbert's grandfather's house in Benton

A Polaroid picture of Leigh Ann Carner Morris' father with his dog was found in Brandenberg, Kentucky, 110 miles away from where it originated in Princeton, Kentucky

Chris Kramer wrote that he discovered a Veterans of Foreign Wars (left) card from a Marion Tolbert in 1993. It was 100 miles away from Matthew Tolbert’s home in Benton. Photograph (right), of Leigh Ann Carner Morris and her dog, was discovered in Brandenberg in Kentucky. It is 110 miles from Princeton.

Many of the personal items belonging to residents were destroyed up to 130 miles from their homes. Now, people are helping families and friends who have lost all or part of their lives in a strange place.

Following the destruction of six US states by tornadoes this weekend, Midwesterners turned to social media for help in finding their loved ones.

Quad State Tornado Found Item Facebook Group is overflowing with photos of items and pets that have been found. Many times, owners were 100 miles from the place where their items ended up.

This black-and-white photo shows a woman wearing a head scarf and sundress, holding a baby boy in her lap. The little boy traveled more than 130 miles with winds gusting up to 140 mph.