Survivors of the killer tornado that slammed Oklahoma say they've lost everything — but count themselves lucky to be alive.
As the dark vortex powered by 200-mph winds reeled towards the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park, 35 miles outside of Oklahoma City, James Hoke hastily steered his wife and two children into an underground storm cellar.
"It took a dead hit. Everything is gone" Hoke told CBS News after emerging to find himself surrounded by twisted heaps of metal.
He and other neighbors quickly began a desperate search for survivors.
"My father-in-law was buried under the house. We had to pull Sheetrock off of him," Hoke said.
Katrina King told the Dallas News she was running a bath for her 4-year-old son Chance when there was a “scary, scary ripping sound,” and a tree branch through the wall.
She huddled with Chance, her 9-year-old daughter Emily and their two dogs in a closet and “just prayed,” as the house collapsed around them.
When they emerged, "everywhere there was twisted metal. People around us were screaming, injured. Disaster. Thank God, my children are safe. I can’t believe the branch didn’t kill us; we have these huge trees around us. We didn’t die.”
Gene May knew she was taking a risk when she hid in the closet of her home and waited for the tornado's fury. Incredibly, her house was totally leveled, except for the closet where she stood in fear.
“I am shocked it's still standing and that it protected me,” May told NBCDFW.com. “I felt like Jesus was right there with his arms wrapped around me.”
Scattered among the debris of her destroyed home, she found a photo of her late father, who died 22 years ago.
“Now the tears are going to come, I didn't think I would see any pictures of my family,” she said, adding, “I'm thankful for what I got, for the things I'm finding that still mean something.”
Six-year-old Cole Curlee said he was grateful to have survived.
"I was scared... I heard it all. I thought something blew off the roof," the youngster told Curlee told necn.com.
Cole said his family stood together and prayed as the tornado passed overhead — prayers they will continue to use as they pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
"We're going to get [the house] fixed. We live in a good house. It'll be even better when we're done with it," Cody said.
"My mind is, like, blown, completely blown," said Jessie Addington, told CNN as she stared at the rubble of her childhood home in Shawnee, where her mother still lives and survived despite being tossed around by the winds.
"I'm feeling cheated, to be honest, like, it's just all gone."
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