TUSHKA, OK -- At least two people were killed and dozens were injured when a tornado leveled the city of Tushka in April, but a family of four managed to fight through the storm out in the open and it was all caught on surveillance video. Kristen Shanahan tells us how they came face-to-face with the funnel and survived.
Around 7:25 p.m. on April 14, 2011 an EF3 tornado ripped through the town with winds of up to 165 miles per hour and in a matter of minutes most of the town was destroyed.
After hearing the sirens Desiree Miller says she and her husband and her two kids got into the car, but by the time they got to the school's shelter it was too late. The doors were locked.
"Total terror. Total Terror. I think my heart jumped into my mouth that day," Miller said.
Miller grabbed her 5-year-old son Sean and her husband Jason clung to their baby girl McKenzie kneeling down outside in a parking lot as the tornado approached.
"We tried to go into the storm shelter here at Tushka Schools. We didn't make it. They had already shut them down, and the winds were so high we were getting blown backwards," Miller said. "So my husband walked one way and I walked another. I lost peripheral vision of him. He hunkered down in front of a pole fence, pipe fence maybe, and he was waiting there. I go back to my car looking for him and then I can hear him vaguely yelling, and I turn around and he's hunkered down, so me, my son, daughter, and husband all held on to a pipe fence for about 9 to 10 minutes."
Miller says those minutes felt like an eternity as they were pummeled by bricks, rocks and other flying debris. She says at one point there was an odd silence, and that is when they decided to say their goodbyes.
"We were all saying goodbye on the fence. We kissed the tops of my kid's heads. I couldn't reach my husband. I just squeezed his hand and said 'I love you'. He replied the same thing, and we really did not think we were coming home," Miller said.
She says it took everything they had in them to hang on. At one point Miller's car even slid toward them stopping just about a foot short of slamming into the family.
Minutes later the funnel passed and the shocked family was able to get up. Shorty after help arrived they were all taken to local hospitals. Miller says now the family takes extra severe weather precautions, and can describe their experience in just one word.
"It is a plain miracle," Miller said. "I don't think with without God and us praying on that fence post we'd be here."