Oklahoma tornado: Survivors' tales from eye of the storm

A week on from the tornado which killed 24 people and devastated neighbourhoods in Moore, residents are still assessing the damage.

Here, survivors reflect on their experiences, in video, of when the 200 mph wind battered their homes in the Oklahoma City suburb.

  • Crystal's story


    Nineteen-year-old Crystal Houchins was home alone when the tornado struck. She reacted as she had been trained to do since childhood and tried to shelter in the most central room of the house until the storm had passed. In Crystal's case, this was the bathroom. She climbed inside the bath tub and dragged a mattress on top of her. The storm tore the roof off her home and when she emerged, only the bathroom was left standing.

    holderCrystal's story..
  • Sheila's story


    Sheila Lyles was at work when the tornado hit and did not see her home's fate until the next day. She felt lucky: while much of the surrounding neighbourhood was flattened, the shell of her home remained, and she's managed to recover some personal objects. The mother of two remains philosophical about what has happened and plans to rebuild on the same spot. A lifelong Moore resident, she can't imagine living anywhere else.

    holderSheila's story..
  • Martina's story


    Martina Steele says she thought she would not survive when the twister tore through her home. She called her grown-up son and told him to dig her out when the storm had passed. "I thought I was going to die," she says. Fortunately, she emerged unscathed but shocked. She describes a chaotic scene as residents began evacuating the area on foot, clutching precious family objects and still dazed from what had just happened.

    holderMartina's story..
  • Michael's story


    Michael Roper was asleep and alone at his house when he heard the tornado approaching. He grabbed pillows and headed to a central hallway followed by his dog, Buddy. The storm seemed to hover above for only a few seconds, but when it ended, Michael's house was almost completely destroyed. Two puppies belonging to his 13-year-old daughter were also killed when the roof fell on their cage. He says the storm sounded like four trains running overhead.

    holderMichael's story..
  • Paula's story


    Although the storm was predicted, the tornado itself gathered quickly, in a matter of minutes. Paula Wade was at work in Moore and watched the twister's ominous approach. Once the winds became too close for comfort, she and colleagues took refuge in the building's underground shelter. A veteran of previous tornados, Paula said she could tell by its appearance that this one would have a severe effect on the land below.

    holderPaula's story..
  • The aftermath


    The tornado which swept through Moore on 20 May was 17 miles long and left 24 people dead. First estimates say the damage caused could reach $2bn (£1.3bn). With thousands of homes destroyed or damaged, the town of Moore now faces a long recovery.

Video production by David Botti. Web production by Steven Atherton, Christine Jeavans and Tom Geoghegan.

Main image: AP

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