Image: The dryer in which Miller hid
Kyle Munson  /  The Des Moines Register
The dryer in which Austin Miller, 11, hid to protect himself from a tornado.
updated 5/13/2011 12:16:22 PM ET 2011-05-13T16:16:22

An 11-year-old boy survived a tornado that demolished part of his house by hiding in a clothes dryer, according to reports.

Austin Miller was home watching TV Wednesday in Lenox, Iowa, when his panicked mother called to warn that tornadoes were on their way, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

"I said: Austin go to the laundry room," said Jessica Miller, Austin's mother. Their house has no basement or shelter, the World-Herald reported, so the windowless room was the best place to take shelter.

"It was pretty scary," Austin said according to the newspaper. The dryer door was about 1 foot tall and 1-and-a-half feet wide — just big enough for him to squeeze in.

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As the twister tore up his house, demolishing the second story, Austin could hear windows shattering and see debris swirling around.

Mom at work
His mother was reportedly at work at the Cheese's Food Center grocery store when the tornado warning came.

"I couldn't get to him," she told the World-Herald. "That was the worst. That was the worst thing."

Image: Austin Miller
Kyle Munson  /  The Des Moines Register
Austin Miller, 11, survived a tornado by hiding inside a clothes dryer.

Austin stayed in the dryer until after the storm passed when an aunt came to the house looking for him, the World-Herald reported.

"I didn't know I was, like, three feet from the tornado until I went out there and saw the roof was gone," he said according to the Des Moines Register.

"If he wouldn't have been in that laundry room, it would have come right down on him," Austin's mother said.

Downed trees
Lenox, a town of about 1,400 people, otherwise suffered minimal damage — primarily downed trees and shingle damage, storm investigators from the National Weather Service said Thursday.

Lenox Fire Chief Kirk O'Riley said only a few houses would have to be condemned, the World-Herald said.

"We're just thankful it was not any worse than it turned out to be," O'Riley said Thursday.

"It's devastation, yes, but bricks and mortar can be rebuilt. Lives cannot."

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