NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — A Cookeville teen survived the deadly March 3 tornado but lost critical items when the storm hit - her hearing aids.
16-year-old Ella Neal was asleep in her bed when an EF-4 tornado ripped through her home. When she was thrown from her room, she lost her hearing aids.
"I ended up under a part of my house near my next neighbor’s like near his pool," said Ella, "At first I thought that my house caved in, so I was very confused and I was yelling for my mom, and eventually one of my neighbors came in with a flashlight and found me under the house. "
Ella was born with a rare disorder called reverse slope.
"I can hear higher pitches or higher frequencies better than lower ones," she explained.
Yet, it hasn’t stopped the teen from living a normal life. Unfortunately, it's not always easy and she finds ways to adapt, like when dancing for example.
"The other girls they can hear the music cues whereas I probably have to have a physical cue to be able to go into something else," she explained.
But after hearing her story, a hearing aid manufacturer wanted to help. On Friday, she was fitted with a pair of advanced hearing aids donated by Starkey, a hearing aid manufacturer in Minnesota.
"I’m just really excited because I haven’t experienced something like this before, so it’s going to be new and it’s going to be fun," said Ella.
Starkey officials asked Dr. Randi Yontz to make it happen.
"As soon as they reached out to me I was like yes, please I’ve been wanting to do something. because you feel powerless, and I’m like what can I do with my skillset and soon as I heard this I was like yes I can’t wait to help her," said Yontz
Yontz says these new devices allow Ella to listen to music and calls from her phone straight to her hearing aids. She can tap one ear and ask Alexa to order something off amazon.
But regardless of all the cool features, Ella says she’s just happy to hear more clearly again.
"I’m really grateful for it, I didn’t really expect it but I’m really glad that I do have this opportunity so I’m not taking it for granted," said Ella.
Ella and her mother were able to move into a new home after the tornado.