Oklahoma Pinay won’t let tornadoes scare her away

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Severe storms roared through the Midwest Tuesday to Wednesday, with the National Weather Service having reported at least fifty tornadoes in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.

Storms in Oklahoma shut down roads and caused residents to run for safety to avoid flying debris. Oklahoma, where there are close to 11,000 Filipinos, declared a state of emergency in a dozen counties Thursday, as people continue to stay safe from heavy winds and dangerous amounts of rain. In Oklahoma City, a flash food emergency was declared by the National Weather Service — the first ever in the city.

A few injuries were reported, including about a dozen at an Oklahoma City trailer park. One woman drowned in an underground storm shelter that flooded. One RV owner said, “This has been my life for 27 years and I can’t describe it. I think I’m a little bit in shock. When I first saw it, I just couldn’t believe it. The devastation, you know, you just can’t kind of wonder how you’re going to recover from this. But we will.”

Officials of the Philippine Consulate in Chicago, which has jurisdiction over Oklahoma, said they have reached out to the Filipino community there and are still trying to determine if there were any Filipinos affected by the tornadoes.

Rhoda Sevilla-Blaskie said that being a long-time Oklahoma resident, she should be used to tornado warnings by now — but she related that it never gets easy. She said, “I was really nervous because last night, when the sirens sounded off, we were not together as a family.” After rounding up her family members, they sought refuge inside their tornado bunker.

She said she’s heard from some fellow Pinoys that their properties were partially damaged. But so far, she said she hasn’t heard of a kababayan who got injured from Wednesday night’s twisters.

Despite living in an area prone to disasters, she said she and her family will not leave Oklahoma. She expressed, “We’ve been here for a long time. We just have to get used to it. This is our home. We pray. We know we have tornadoes here all the time. But we know God is with us.”

Kababayans living in Tornado Alley have to continue to stay strong during tornado season. Authorities said more storms are possible later in the week and the National Weather Service said it was particularly worried about flooding in affected areas.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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