Ardmore residents recall May 1995 tornado

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ARDMORE, OK -- Twenty years ago an EF-3 tornado ripped through Carter, Love and Montague Counties killing three people and wreaking havoc on their communities.

It was about 4 p.m. May 7, 1995 when a half mile wide tornado crossed the Red River heading straight for Ardmore.

Everyone who was there twenty years ago has a story about that afternoon, including Ardmore Fire Chief Cary Williamson.

"That day was just kind of weird," Williamson said. "It wasn't one of those days you would think you needed to watch the weather. It was just strange."

The funnel travelled thirty-four miles through Love and Carter Counties killing three people.

Motorists along I-35 could see the tornado approach.

Darren Culley watched from his police car near Plainview High School, which is on the west side of Ardmore.

"I put my car in drive just as the tornado started lifting roofs off the houses at Southern Hills," Culley said. "I never made it with my foot off the brake. That was when it got me."

Culley's vehicle was thrown forty yards into the air.

Luckily, Culley was not hurt.

"I felt a big shake and I just kept my eyes closed," Culley said. "When I opened them, it had passed and it was just total destruction."

The tornado crashed into the Michelin plant and other structures nearby causing about $100 million in damage.

"There were a lot of people who ended up having to be out of work after the tornado," Culley said. "But we just kind of all pulled together and kept going. We are a tight community."