Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Oklahoma tornado: Man survives by taking refuge in horse stall

Lee Hoyle, of Chickasaw Nation search and rescue, digs through the debris of a mobile home in the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park, destroyed by Sunday's tornado, near Shawnee, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. The tornado that slammed into Oklahoma on Sunday is now blamed for two deaths. Authorities say two men in their 70s have been found dead in or near a mobile home park outside of Shawnee. (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
Lee Hoyle, of Chickasaw Nation search and rescue, digs through the debris of a mobile home in the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park, destroyed by Sunday's tornado, near Shawnee, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. The tornado that slammed into Oklahoma on Sunday is now blamed for two deaths. Authorities say two men in their 70s have been found dead in or near a mobile home park outside of Shawnee. (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
Shawnee firefighters assist driver Marco Corr as he is taken from the cab of his overturned truck, in Shawnee, Okla., Sunday, May 19, 2013. Corr was taken out of the cab through the front windshield. A tornado caused extensive damage along Interstate 40 at the junction with U.S. 177. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)
Shawnee firefighters assist driver Marco Corr as he is taken from the cab of his overturned truck. He was taken out of the cab through the front windshield. A tornado caused extensive damage along I-40 at the junction with US 177 on the west side of Shawnee, Okla., Sunday evening, May 19, 2013. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)
A tornado caused extensive damage along I-40 at the junction with US 177 on the west side of Shawnee, Okla., Sunday evening, May 19, 2013. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel)
Seven-year-old Katrina Ash, right, holds a doll as she waits in the back of a truck with her grandfather, Michael Bowen, left, after a tornado ripped through their neighbourhood near Dale, Oklahoma, Sunday, May 19, 2013. Residents are not being allowed back into the neighbourhood as search and rescue efforts take place. (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
Seven-year-old Katrina Ash, left, watches with her mother, Amber Ash, right, as heavy equipment is brought into their tornado damaged neighbourhood near Dale, Oklahoma, Sunday, May 19, 2013. Residents are not being allowed into the neighbourhood as search and rescue operations continue. (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)
A child calls to his father after being pulled from the rubble of the Tower Plaza Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A tornado as much as a mile (1.6 kilometers) wide with winds up to 200 mph (320 kph) roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on the elementary school. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
This photo provided by KFOR-TV shows a car pile-up outside Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/KFOR-TV)
This photo provided by KFOR-TV shows a car pile-up outside Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/KFOR-TV)
This photo provided by KFOR-TV shows homes flattened outside Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/KFOR-TV) MANDATORY CREDIT
This photo provided by KFOR-TV shows a house fire outside Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/KFOR-TV)
Kay James holds her cat as she sits in her driveway after her home was destroyed by the tornado that hit the area near 149th and Drexel on Monday, May 20, 2013 in Oklahoma City, Okla. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Chris Landsberger)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Yellow caution tape marks off the area surrounding the heavily damaged Moore Medical Center after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Dana Ulepich searches inside a room left standing at the back of her house destroyed after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Nathan Ulepich searches outside the back of his house destroyed after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: A Goodwill donation station is surrounded by debris after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: Chain link fence posts stripped and bent mark the boundary between two houses destroyed after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Damaged vehicles are piled up in front of the Moore Warren Theater after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Cars marked with an orange 'X', denoting they had been checked for occupants, are piled up in what was the front entrance to the damaged Moore Medical Center after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: Chain link fence posts stripped and bent mark the boundary between two houses destroyed after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Cars marked with an orange 'X', denoting they had been checked for occupants, are piled up in what was the front entrance to the damaged Moore Medical Center after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: A vehicle lies upside down in the road after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: Debris covers the ground after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: Massive piles of debris cover the ground after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: (L - R) Yvonne Barragar, Joe Marshall and Barbara Garcia sit in front of Barragar's destroyed house after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Philip Gotcher stands in the rubble of his house after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK - MAY 20: Debris covers the ground after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Philip Gotcher and his daughter Monica stand in the rubble of his house after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
MOORE, OK- MAY 20: Carlos and Kim Caudillo stand in the debris of their home after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado, reported to be at least EF4 strength and two miles wide, touched down in the Oklahoma City area on Monday killing at least 51 people. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Volunteers chain saw a fallen tree knocked down by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: A power line pole bent by a tornado stands over a street May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Candice Lopez (L) and Stephanie Davis help clean debris from Thelma Cox's mobile home after it was destroyed by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Volunteers help clean out Jean McAdams' mobile home after it was overturned by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Lonnie Langston talks about his garage that was swept off the concrete pad next to his house by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: A home sits damaged after a tornado moved through the area May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Kasey Clark sorts through the debris of her grandmother-in-law Thelma Cox's mobile home after it was destroyed by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: ers help with cleanup of Tom and Ronda Clark's property after it was damaged by a tornadMay 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: A piece of corrugated tin is draped over a power line after a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Volunteers help clean out Jean McAdams' mobile home after it was overturned by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: A volunteer helps clean up Jean McAdams' mobile home after it was overturned by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: A volunteer helps clean up Jean McAdams' mobile home after it was overturned by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: An electrical pole lies on a Pottawatomie County road after a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: Lonnie Langston stands near his garage that was swept off the concrete pad next to his house by a tornado May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
SHAWNEE, OK - MAY 20: A home sits damaged after a tornado moved through the area May 20, 2013 near Shawnee, Oklahoma. A series of tornados moved across central Oklahoma May 19, killing two people and injuring at least 21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Lando Hite, an exercise rider and caretaker at the Celestial Acres horse training facility, said his experience of living in Oklahoma’s “Tornado Alley” had likely saved his life: when the storm seemed to go quiet, he said, he knew that danger was imminent.

Hite, who lived and worked at the facility, told local CNN affiliate KFOR that he set several horses free to give them a fighting chance of escaping the storm, before fleeing to a stall himself. “I jumped into one of the stalls and they collapsed on top of me,” he said, shirtless and caked in mud. “It was unbearably loud, you could see stuff flying everywhere, just like in the movie Twister.”

 

The stalls and neighbouring barns sat right in the path of the tornado, which was estimated to be at least an F4 on the Fujita Scale of strength and intensity, which goes up to F5. The building in which Hite sheltered moved around 100 feet during the onslaught. Celestial Acres is part of the 106-acre Orr Family Farm, which was completely levelled by the storm. Hite estimated that the facility housed around 80 horses, most of which had been killed.

 

The Farm is a tourism destination, featuring a zip-line, miniature train, bouncy castles and attractions. Horses were not its only animal inhabitants. Tony Vann, press spokesman for the Farm, told The Independent, “They had llamas, pigs and goats, it was a full petting zoo… [Celestial Acres] is a paddock for other people to keep their horses, so the number of horses is always changing. The records are at the Farm, and that’s gone.”

 

The owners, Doctor Glenn Orr and his son Tom, confirmed on their Facebook page that they and their staff were safe. “We are physically alright,” they said, “but we have sustained a large amount of damage at the Farm and adjacent properties. We are still assessing damage to both properties and animals.”

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