BA Family Returns To Rebuilt Home One Year After Being Destroyed By Tornado

Thursday, May 29th 2014, 7:21 pm
By: News On 6, Travis Meyer

Friday marks a year since a tornado touched down in Broken Arrow. It caused a lot of damage along the Tulsa-Wagoner County line, but no deaths. Now, one family affected by the storm is rebuilding, and reflecting.

"The last thing I heard on Channel 6 was, ‘it's on the ground,' and it was like you all were talking specifically to us because it was headed toward our backyard, and that's when we immediately knew where to go," said Ron Russell.

5/31/2013 Related Story: Tornado Damages Homes, Businesses In Broken Arrow

May 30th, 2013, is a day Ron and Belinda Russell will always remember, as their home was in the crosshairs of an EF-2 Tornado with winds up to 135 miles per hour. It ripped a six-mile path through Broken Arrow, including the direct hit at the Russell's.

Belinda got to a small closet with the dogs first. Then, Ron and their grown son Kyle jumped over furniture to make it.

"By this time the tornado has busted out the windows, I mean, the tornado was in the room," Belinda said.

Then, all of a sudden, the wind stopped blowing.

"Well, it was pitch-black and it was very, very still and quiet," Belinda said. "And, I think you just can't think, we were in such shock. But I think the first thing that came to our minds was ‘everyone OK.'"

The Russell's documented the damage with an album full of photos. Their home was so heavily damaged that they decided to demolish it and rebuild.

8/4/2013 Related Story: Broken Arrow Family Makes Tough Choice To Raze Tornado-Ravaged Home

Like many who have lived to tell the tale, they will never look at spring in the same way.

"There's a different feeling that we have when we see the clouds coming. We feel like we need to be a little more prepared," Ron said.

Belinda said, "The other day, when the storms started rolling in, I'm in my car looking over there, ya know, seeing is it going to be another tornado.

While they may always be a little anxious this time of there, there are positives.

"For certainty all the thankfulness we feel towards the Lord for saving our lives and the whole neighborhood," Belinda said.

On Thursday, the eve of the anniversary of that stormy night, the Russell family finally moved into their rebuilt home.

They were tending to the finishing touches, like making sure the cable-TV is working. Friday, they'll gather with neighbors to remember that frightening night a year ago.