Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

May 27, 2013

PV pastor rides out deadly twister

emann@pvdemocrat.com — Taking a look back at the losses many sections in central Oklahoma sustained during the May 20 tornado offers a chance at the perspective of how thankful one can be for the things usually taken for granted.

A majority of Garvin County residents can count themselves among those more than fortunate for escaping a similar tragedy, but it was Pauls Valley First Christian Church Pastor Peggy D. Farris who not only witnessed part of that path of destruction earlier this week, but was in her home in Newcastle, specifically the Tri-City area, when the deadly weather struck.

Forced to take cover with her husband Bill in the home’s safe room, she took time to recount the experience over the phone Thursday with surreal memories that are still taking time to process.

“I heard the roar of the tornado and I could hear that crunching sound of the boards breaking and everything… It just twisted everything around,” said Farris, adding how she also felt fortunate the damage wasn’t as bad as Moore where the tornado strengthened to its most destructive phase.

“Things kept falling and then pretty soon it stopped, real quiet and we went outside and we could see we had been hit and the neighborhood as well.”

While quite a few accounts from survivors recall having 10 to 15 minutes to seek cover from warnings, Farris first was warned to find said shelter no more than five minutes before when one of her parishioners called her.

She was then warned by a phone app as well as family friends before finding the one place in the structure to not receive significant damage as the tornado roared by.

“We didn’t have any notice hardly at all, it was just on us… it happened so fast,” said Farris, describing the rest of the neighborhood as looking like a warzone.

“The only part of the house that was protected was where we were.”

Farris is thankful the safe room is there in the house and when moving to town in 2008, it was one of the major selling points, that or a cellar, she insisted on.

All but a section of the roof above that room was ripped off by the storm and while the walls were still standing for the most part, she does not believe it will be able to be repaired and will likely mean starting over in a new home.

In the meantime, while cleaning up what is salvageable from the house, Farris has been staying with some family nearby as well as a hotel they were placed in and will live temporarily more often in the church’s parsonage in Pauls Valley.

She feels attached to the area where her church family is and will consider many options like something in town nearby if she decides to leave Newcastle.

Ultimately, Farris is grateful her prayers were answered and for the fact she was able to walk away from it all at the end of the day.

“When it hit I was praying for protection surrounding Bill and I,” said Farris.

“I don’t see how it could ever be repaired… I don’t know where we’re going to build, what we’re going to do.”

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