Family tells of close call with Moore tornado

Reported by: Henry Ramos
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Updated: 5/22/2013 4:10 am

As we watched that tornado chew a path through that suburb on live television, the terrible realization of the death and destruction for a Plainview teacher was almost unbearable.

Michelle Pittman is a Moore native with loved ones in the path of the storm.  She was extremely fortunate, because she was able to contact her sister and grandparents after the storm passed.

During her last class Monday, Pittman was doing some classwork on online when the horror of Moore came up on her computer screen.

"A tornado hits Moore near the 1999 tornado, and my heart dropped," she said. "Then before I could read anymore into the story, my dad called me and said I just want you to know that nana and papa's house got hit, but nobody's heard from them."

However, five minutes later, which seemed like an eternity she heard from her grandparents.

"Nana and papa got into the bathroom as soon as they heard the tornado's hit, that is the most central location of the house," she said. "It has no windows, and they covered up with blankets and pillows and had their radio."

Two blocks from the path of the twister their house is still standing, but is badly battered by debris. 

"Windows were shattered at the back end of the house, and the side bedrooms, but they were safe."

Jana Douglas, Pittman's sister, said, "There is no way to explain it."

Douglas, her husband and two-year-old live about four miles from the grandparents.  As soon as those warning sirens sounded, they ran to a neighbors house with a basement.

"We just bunkered down there, and the power went out and all we had was crank radio to kind of guess where the tornado was," she said. "Now I really understand what they are talking about. It really does sound like a train, and then coming out we really couldn't see anything because my neighborhood wasn't affected, but it was about a mile and half from the path."

Jana's husband first thought was to check on the grandparents, which proved to be a very difficult task. 

"He couldn't get a car to it," she said. "There was so much stuff in the roadways."

The family is now staying with relatives in another Oklahoma communities.

"It is not comfortable," Douglas said. "It is an eerie silence in the neighborhood. We really haven't talked about what we are going to do right now. Of course we are going to go back home and go back and try to live our lives as best as we can."

Pittman plans to make that trip to Moore as soon as possible.  Even though the family is fine, she'll feel relieved when she can hug them.

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