The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 26, 2013

Former Enid man came face-to-face with twister

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A former Enid resident who now lives in Moore stared last week’s tornado in the face while taking his kids home from school.

Sean Kennedy, who has lived in Moore the past 15 years, was working near Crossroads Mall when he heard the tornado was coming. He rushed to Fisher Elementary School to get his three kids and ran into heavy traffic. He called the elementary school to have them prepare his kids, then parked and ran six blocks to the school. Hail already had started falling as he arrived at the school.

Carrying his smaller child, Kennedy told the other two to run, and they ran for his pickup.

“We ran in the hail. I scooped up the little one and told the others to run. When we got to the pickup, I told them to buckle up and hold on,” Kennedy said.

As he turned onto May Avenue, he was looking at the tornado.

“It was coming right at us. I’ve never been so scared in my life. I was afraid I wouldn’t get those kids to a safe place,” he said. “It looked like it was coming right at us.”

Kennedy made his way home and took the kids across the street to a neighbor’s tornado shelter. His youngest son has asthma and is very scared of tornadoes, and he began having trouble breathing. Kennedy ran out of the shelter and ran across the street in the hail to get his son’s inhaler, with the tornado right on top of them.

“I had to try three times to get the garage door open, then I ran through the house until I found an inhaler and ran back,” Kennedy said.

As it turned out, they were safe and their property was not damaged. Kennedy said his house was about a mile from the path of the tornado, which went over his house before touching down on its deadly path. He said he had debris and hail at his house, but nothing else.

“I was afraid I wouldn’t make it to the school in time. When they lock down, it’s too late; it doesn’t matter if you are the parent, they won’t release them to you,” Kennedy said.

Fisher Elementary School is about a mile and a half north of the disaster area, he said. Some of Kennedy’s friends did not arrive in time and were unable to get their children.

Ten people and four dogs were found in the shelter, Kennedy said.

As the tornado passed over, Kennedy said it sounded like a giant shop vacuum passing overhead.

“It was an awful sucking sound and the sirens were going off at the same time,” he said.

One of the shelter’s occupants had a radio, and they heard broadcasts of the storm flattening one house after another. Everyone had friends, relatives or co-workers who lived in the area that was hit by the tornado, he said.

“We were devastated. We didn’t know who was safe and who wasn’t. I lived in Moore in 1999 when the last tornado hit, and I was having flashbacks of that,” Kennedy said.

He admitted he has considered moving because of the tornadoes. He and his family have only lived in their house about a year. They strongly considered another house in Newcastle. He drove by that house after the storm.

“It’s just matchsticks and rubble,” he said. “We had a lot of soul-searching about that house. It was flattened to the slab,” he said.

Kennedy is wondering why storms follow the same path and said there must be a reason.

“This many times in the same area is not a coincidence,” he said.