Oklahoma Tornadoes and Thunderstorms: a Family’s Account

FIRST PERSON | YUKON, Okla. — Pulling into my driveway and running into my house on Tuesday afternoon, I found my wife and two children covered with blankets and hiding underneath a mattress leaned up against the wall.

The news said the storm has shifted and we — situated in Yukon, a western Oklahoma City suburb — needed to seek shelter. Tornado sirens blared, rain poured, wind blew, and I could see a tree in our back yard waving back and forth. Thunder boomed periodically, and the lights inside flashed off and on a few times. I took over trying to keep the children entertained while my wife grabbed some corn dogs. There is a tornado outside, but the kids wanted to eat. Our 3-year-old, wearing a princess-themed bicycle helmet, tells us that she wants chocolate milk.

Both our kids were unhappily sitting in our small hallway closet while my wife and I trapped them inside with our bodies. After several minutes, the excitement waned and our children became bored. We tried to keep them busy with a card game with cartoon characters, but they want out. Sirens still screamed; we now had two kids doing the same. But safety comes first.

Our cell phones periodically received several text messages at once from friends and family who do not live in Oklahoma. All messages were some variation of, “Are you all OK?” Every time we tried to respond, our phones told us that our messages are undeliverable. My wife says this is the one time she wishes we had a landline.

An eternity later, the sirens and rain stopped. Moments later we heard the sirens of ambulances. We return to the television and see the damage of surrounding homes and businesses.

“Those of you in western Oklahoma, you’re done,” says the meteorologist. Here in Yukon, that means us.

We started watching the radar on television showing the storm going over areas of the Oklahoma metro where friends live, and we pray they are spared as well. The meteorologist warned that if it is raining where you are, then you need to stay in your shelter because there are too many storms for them to track. There was no longer any rain here, so we were safe. Looking out the back window, I could see an unscathed tree and some kids’ toys strewn about the yard from being blown around.

The kids are now happy to run around and cause more havoc than the storm caused here. Everything is back to normal for our house, but many Oklahomans are still sitting in their shelters hoping they can emerge to a house intact.