Sand Springs One Year After An EF-2 Tornado

Wednesday, March 9th 2016, 1:42 pm
By: Craig Day

One man died and hundreds of lives were changed when an EF-2 twister tore through Sand Springs and West Tulsa on March 25th, 2015.

The tornado was on the ground for about 10 miles.

"I mean people were in these," said Debbie Dias, showing photos of the damage.

She cried every day for weeks after the Sand Springs tornado. 

"It was very scary, very scary. It was."

She wondered why her house was spared, while so many others lost everything. "I just kept thinking about all these people and my doctor said it was survivors guilt."

Nearly a year after the twisting winds of up to 135 miles per hour hit, she says it seems like it happened yesterday.

"It's like watching a movie on TV."

The tornado left debris, destruction,

"This was the house across the street where we ran to."

Despair and disbelief.

"We went back and sat in our vehicle, because you don't know what to do. You don't, you just don't know what to do."

The tornado that hit Sand Springs a year ago, killed one person, injured 30 people, two of them critically, and destroyed more than 50 homes. It's a violent storm people who lived in this area say they will never forget.

The mobile home parks still show signs of the destruction: The rubble, debris in trees, bare concrete slabs. Haley Toops and her family stayed in the neighborhood.

She says recovery is tough, but not impossible.

"By the grace of God, with the American Red Cross, the local businesses in town, they've actually offered a lot of help.  There was an agency here in town that actually helped us get our furnace working again," Toops said.

That agency is Sand Springs Community Services, which immediately set up a long term recovery center to help victims. First with immediate needs like clothing, and then ongoing help.

Janet Eiker, Disaster Relief Coordinator, said, "I expected a lot of woe is me, and I didn't hear that."

Debbie Dias, Haley Toops and nearly 150 other families got help through the group. The tornado damaged so much in only 20 seconds.

"It does not take long to wipe out everything. I can't believe there weren't more people hurt in there," Dias said.

Haley Toops said, "Be alert, have a backup plan, have an emergency plan set with your kids, have a kit ready in your car, because you never know what is going to happen."