Family Rides Out Red Oak Tornado Thanks To Storm Shelter
LATIMER COUNTY, Oklahoma - A tornado fell from the sky in southeastern Oklahoma and flooding is keeping emergency officials from getting to some of the victims.
One family rode out the storm and said something they did last summer may have saved their lives.
Don Wilcox said he and his family were outside when the tornado, a preliminary EF-1, dropped in their backyard.
“Oh yeah, this is home to me,” he said.
As a lifelong Oklahoman, Don is used to the blood-pumping rush during storm season.
“My heart was pounding,” he said. “We heard like a loud whoooosh.”
As some Okies are known to do, Don and his wife, Dusti, were outside watching the storm roll in when a tornado appeared just behind their house in very rural Red Oak.
“We were in under the carport,” he explained. “We looked over here and seen the funnel come down…It was like it was lifting up and then coming back down, then lift up and come back down.”
There was no time to think by that time; fortunately they were only about 20 yards from their underground shelter.
“We just barely got in,” Don said.
Dusti said, “Scary. I was good till I got out and then I cried.”
They walked out and saw two of their outdoor shops were destroyed, almost all their trees were shredded and their outdoor cat, Garfield, was cut and shaken up.
“We found him out here in the pasture, I don't know if it blowed him away or what happened to him, and then he was pretty scared. We let him stay in the house last night,” Don said.
As the tornado rolled through, so did the rain.
Streets all over Latimer County look more like little rivers and the emergency manager said crews can't even get to all of the damage because of the water covering some roads is so deep.
5/11/2015 Related Story: Residents Deal With Extensive Flooding In Pittsburg County
The Wilcoxes are invested in their state, just like they invested in their storm shelter just last summer.
“Best money we ever spent,” Dusti said.
“It'll save your life. It really will,” Don agreed.
The family said the storm only lasted about ten second once they got in the shelter, but said they stayed underground for about 45 minutes, just to be safe.