Persisting on Prayer: A local family’s tornado tragedy

National

Beauregard, Ala. (WRBL) – Hearing Shamel Hart laugh and seeing her smile warms your soul. At 33, the young mother has weathered more tragedy than most face in a lifetime.

To understand Hart’s perseverance, we painfully step back to 2019 into the Opelika hotel room where we first met the grieving mother and son, forty-eight hours after their world crumbled in the March 3rd tornado.

Hart and her family were right in the middle of the deadly storm’s path of destruction. Hart’s son Jaylen describes the first moments of the storm. “My mommy and my auntie tried to cover us as best as they could, but the floor fell. I was still in the house when it flipped over,” says Jaylen Hart.

In the aftermath Shamel Hart frantically searched for the children who were in the home, digging through debris to find them. “The first voice I could hear was my little niece, so I grabbed her out of the trees, and she had blood all over her really bad, and I yelled for Jaylen and Jonathan,” says Shamel Hart.

Shamel Hart found her mother next, and then her sons. “I seen my mom and her leg was broken and right before I could go help her I seen Jaylen,” says Hart. “He was kneeling over Jonathan, he had a real deep cut on his head, and you could see his skull. I started performing CPR, and he started breathing.”

Despite Hart’s best efforts to save them, her nine-year-old son, Jonathan Bowen, and eight-year-old niece, Mykhayla Waldon, died from their injuries. “I remember how it was for me in that moment, your world has ended,” says Hart.

Nearly a year later, Hart and Mykhayla’s mother, who is not ready to speak publicly about her daughter, teach lessons at the Opelika Dance Studio the pair opened. The studio is dedicated to their children. “In honor of both of them,” says Hart, “Mykhayla was an excellent dancer and this is for he that is a silhouette of her dancing.”

Hart is also attending Southern Union’s Nursing Program. Her dream is to work at East Alabama Medical Center. When you hear the reason why, you’ll want to reach out and hug the young mother. “I always wanted to be a nurse,” says Hart, “but I think after that event I felt like maybe if I would have knew more I could have did more.”

Let’s be clear, Hart did all she could to keep her son and niece alive. In fact, if a mother’s love was enough to save a child, both Jonathan and Mykhayla – and the young souls who perished March 3rd would still be here.

Hart’s surviving son reminds her of that fact each day. “He really helps me out a lot,” says Hart, “Cause I guess we both have to be strong for each other.”

A year has come and gone and Hart says some days she just survives, but other days she thrives and laughs and smiles. “I really don’t think I would have made it through – without prayer,” says Hart, “so thank you for everyone one that who consistently prayed.”

Hart says she never would have survived a year without her youngest son and without the power of prayer. Hart ended our interview by thanking the entire community for their consistent prayers and support.

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