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Erin Napier Recalls Terrifying Tornado Experience: ‘Thankful It Wasn’t Worse’

Photo from Erin Napier’s Instagram

Erin Napier Recalls Terrifying Tornado Experience: ‘Thankful It Wasn’t Worse’

By Movieguide® Contributor

HOME TOWN’s Erin Napier is opening up about how she was grateful for safety after a “scary” encounter with a tornado. 

“Helen was almost two, and the tornado siren started going off. We knew bad weather was coming,” Napier said during an appearance on Southern Living’s “Biscuits and Jam” podcast. “I said we’ll go get in the closet under the stairs, and as soon as we got in and closed the door we could feel the house move. It felt alive in a way that really scared me.”

She recalled hearing the house “creak and pop” but knew it was “sturdy” against the storm. 

“It felt like, okay it’s gonna do its job, it’s gonna protect us, it’s gonna shelter us,” Napier said. “We could hear glass breaking but we knew that the house was holding steady.”

After the storm, Napier, her husband Ben, and daughter Helen ventured out to see the damage. 

“We didn’t have power and the front windows in our living room had been busted out by debris,” she shared. “The Christmas tree was a mess. The ornaments — a lot of them got broken — and Helen was like, ‘What happened?’ She wasn’t exactly scared but she knew something serious had happened.”

Napier said, “It was sad to see this historic neighborhood with so many old houses losing their chimneys, but it could have been worse.”

“I’m really thankful it wasn’t worse,” she added.

She tells the story again in more detail in a chapter of her latest book, “Heirloom Rooms.”

A description of the book explains it’s “a collection of essays walking us through every room in her home, telling the story of a family’s life, of the days that made their home the place she longs for when she’s away.”

Napier and her husband also centered Season 4 of HOME TOWN around their efforts to help their town rebuild after the tornado. 

“This is the last thing this neighborhood needed,” she said in a clip from the show, with Ben adding, “We can fix this.”

Movieguide® previously reported on how the Napiers helped revitalize their hometown of Laurel, Mississippi:

HGTV stars Erin and Ben Napier put Laurel Mississippi back on the map with their hit series HOME TOWN.  

Southern Living reported, “When we all came home from college—Mallorie and Jim Rasberry, Emily and Josh Nowell, Ben, and me—we were the only people who lived downtown,” Erin recalled. 

“It was just us and the feral cats. For the six of us, all in our twenties, it was like a game: How can we make downtown Laurel feel alive again?” 

“We all did what we could,” Erin added. “Josh had done some real estate development. He had a bird’s-eye view. Ben and I were the storytellers. I would take photos of a corner downtown that people might overlook. I kept a journal online, and I mocked up some murals in Photoshop. We put some lights in the trees and had these potluck parties and invited our friends from Hattiesburg. We were just like, ‘Yeah, Laurel’s a cool place—you didn’t know?’” 

Erin went on to explain that every single person played a part in putting Laurel back on top.  

“You need the accountants and the lawyers to make sure grants are done properly, and you need the preachers and the teachers who can gather volunteers from the churches and schools.”