Personal Tragedy

Tornado Alert

UPDATED 05/21/2007 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/21/2007 at 01:00 AM EDT

Just before 2 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2005, Kathryn Martin woke to find a 200-mph tornado had lifted her trailer in the air, then slammed it back down. Though Martin and her husband, John, survived, the twister eventually killed 25 people in southwestern Indiana—including Martin's 2-year-old son C.J., who was spending the night at his great-grandmother's nearby trailer. "I was so angry we didn't have any warning," says Martin, 28. Two months later she began writing letters to local politicians calling for the installation of weather radios—which emit a piercing alarm when the National Weather Service issues storm alerts—inside new mobile homes. In April, Gov. Mitch Daniels signed House Bill 1033, known as C.J.'s Law, making the installation mandatory (mobile home owners pay the radio's $30 cost). "Kathryn was able to translate her loss and grief into something positive," Daniels tells PEOPLE. Next month Martin will join Indiana's congressman Brad Ellsworth in Washington to announce a proposal to make C.J.'s law national. Says Martin: "What I'm fighting for now is to help other people from going through what we went through."

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