Mindy Chaddock opens the door of her family’s safe room in Moore, Oklahoma. Chaddock and nine family members took refuge in the shelter while an EF-5 tornado reduced everything around them to rubble on May 20, 2013.
Less than half an hour after sheltering, the devastating tornado was right above them. “It was a horrific experience. It was a slow moving storm and it seems like it lasted forever,” said Chaddock.
“The noise was so loud that we couldn’t hear each other and it was pitch black in there. Although there were flashlights inside, we didn’t have time to think about them. We could hear the sound of flying debris and the entire ground was shaking. I don’t see how you could have survived in a bathtub or a closet, because even in the safe room we were scared for our lives. That’s how strong it was.”
After the family emerged from the safe room, they were stunned at what they saw. Laister’s house was gone and nothing was salvageable. Their cars were smashed and the entire neighborhood was in rubble. Directly across the street were the scattered ruins of Plaza Towers Elementary School. Later they found out that Blalock’s house, a few streets over, had also been destroyed.
For additional information on residential safe rooms search: FEMA.gov/safe-rooms