People on outskirts of Madill share experiences before deadly tornado hit

Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 6:37 PM CDT
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The deadly EF-2 tornado that swept through Madill Wednesday left many shaken and in shock.

Residents on Rainbow Lane, west of Madill, said living on top of a hill gives them a vantage point to see tornadoes from miles around. However, the biggest tornado they have seen yet hit J & I Manufacturing on the next hill over, less than two miles away.

Charlie Sliger has lived on Rainbow Lane for 17 years and said he had just gotten home from work Wednesday when he saw rotation in the clouds, headed toward J & I Manufacturing.

"It looked like you could reach up and touch the clouds, it was so low," Sliger said. "It was pretty spooky-looking. You know, we've probably seen 8 or 10 touchdown just out in the areas that you can see. It's kind of crazy up here."

Sliger said when the clouds went over his house, there was no wind at all. That is when things ramped up.

"You could still see the tornado," Sliger said. "I guess it was probably going through the pasture or (Oklahoma) Steel and Wire by then. You just see debris flying everywhere."

Once the tornado had touchdown and moved on, Sliger went to check on his neighbors who live across from J & I, including Gordon Dowlen.

Dowlen said he was watching News 12 when he saw clouds were building and heard a loud roaring noise.

"No lighting, thunder, not anything," Dowlen said. "No rain, nothing. It was just roaring. And I said 'What in the world?'"

He said he noticed his wife's large ceramic flower pots start to move.

“They started blowing sideways and skidding down the concrete," Dowlen said. "I said ‘What in the world is doing that?’ because there was no dust or anything. It started sliding. About that time they started exploding, just, ‘boom’.”

Dowlen said he realized a tornado was coming and took cover inside his house.

“I’d say it lasted maybe a minute, two minutes, something like that," Dowlen said. “It was pretty scary. It happened so fast I really didn’t get too scared.”

The tornado mangled his garage doors, uprooted trees and blew down his fence.

Friends and neighbors were quick to lend a helping hand.

"I'll tell you what, we've got the greatest country in the world to live in," Dowlen said. "We have neighbors that came in from all over. They had this place cleaned up by dark. I'm so thankful that me and my wife and my dogs, I got two labs, are safe."

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