Catoosa tornado victim remembers deadly twister 25 years later

Catoosa tornado victim remembers deadly twister 25 years later (KTUL)

Twenty-five years ago, Shirley Siner described the horrify experience during the Catoosa tornado that left seven people dead and injured around 100 others.

“We felt the roof fly away, we felt the side of the building fly away," Siner said at the time. "Then we felt ourselves being pushed that way.”

It was either fate or faith that saved her April 24,1993.

“It was hailing so hard, I got this phone call,” Siner remembers. “(My husband) said get the hell out of there. Bruce’s truck stop has been destroyed and that tornado is heading your way.”

Two and a half decades ago, there was no where for Siner to go. The tornado that demolished Bruce’s Truck stop on I-44 was heading straight toward her family’s restaurant.

“All of a sudden, I was sliding across the floor,” said Siner. “That’s when I said, 'God if you’re ready for me take me but leave my boy alone.'”

Siner was counting the minutes. The storm was relentless. The winds kept coming, the hail kept falling and Siner kept praying.

“I was praying ‘Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee',” said Siner. “And ‘Our Father, who art in heaven’ over and over again until it was gone.”

The damage that the tornado left still takes her breath away.

“That’s the smoke that I was right underneath there,” said Siner, pointing at video of a pile of rubble with a small hole at the bottom, just large enough for her to hide in.

The truck stop on I-44 was just scraps of metal. Homes were wiped away. Siner remembers feeling one thing when it had passed -- cold.

“Really, most of the people were in shock. I was shaking, like you were freezing to death,” said Siner.

Seven people lost their lives in the storm, but other than some surface injuries everyone at the restaurant was OK.

“These are things, that’s not what is important in life. This is what is important in life, family,” said Siner.

There’s a treasure hidden in the old Channel 8 file video -- a glimpse of someone she lost the year after the tornado.

“I want to see that again, play it again,” said Siner, tears in her eyes.

Her mom was by her side 25 years ago and today made a surprise appearance in some old archive video. It’s a blessing Siner wasn’t expecting, especially since it was her mom’s birthday.

“Happy birthday momma,” said Siner.

If you ask her, it was faith that saved her that day.

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