Family escapes home minutes before Oklahoma tornado wiped it out: 'We were terrified'

Jimmie Blake says she was at her home about 10 miles outside of Bartlesville with her husband, her elderly mom, her 8-year-old grandson and her dog when the forecast turned grim. Minutes later, a massive tornado was bearing down on their home.

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — A family has a harrowing tale of survival after a massive tornado swept through Barnsdall and Bartlesville in northeastern Oklahoma on Monday evening.

Jimmie Blake said she was at her home about 10 miles outside of Bartlesville with her husband, her elderly mom, her 8-year-old grandson and her dog when the forecast turned grim. She said she was watching a local weather broadcast tracking the severe storms and sprang to action when the broadcast suddenly indicated a tornado would be at their home in 20 minutes.


"And we all jumped up and said, ‘We got to go now!’" Blake told FOX Weather's Robert Ray. "So we grabbed my purse, my laptop, my little dog, my husband, my elderly mom, and my 8-year-old grandson. And we drove very fast to Bartlesville."

River, her grandson, said it was a scary experience.

"Honestly, I was kind of freaking out a little bit," River said. "My Mimi told me to get out, and I was breathing hard, and I was really nervous."

‘I was praying over my animals’

As they sped away, the storm began to rage around them with lightning and rain. Then the weather became even worse when they reached Bartlesville.

"And the tornado sirens started going off there everywhere," Jimmie Blake said. "And the wind picked up, and the rain was horrendous. So we just went to a friend’s house. We made it to a friend's house safely. There were trees falling down, could hardly see the road because the rain was so bad."

She said they weathered the storm safely at their friend’s home. When they returned to their home after the storm, they found their house partially destroyed, their barn demolished and could only find two of their five horses.


"And we were terrified," she said. "We were hoping, because this fence is completely down between us and the Wild Horse sanctuary. So we were hoping that the horses ran for safety. The biggest fear was, were they hurt or injured?"

But luckily, the three horses had survived and found their way back home safe and sound.

"It’s our faith in God," she said. "The last thing I did before I drove off this place last night was, I was praying over my animals. I obviously couldn't load them and go that quickly. It's just faith that he's going to get you through another day."

Picking up the pieces

Now, the cleanup begins.

Jimmie’s daughter Skyler was there with River on Tuesday, combing the debris and adjacent field from Jimmie’s home, searching for precious family photos that had become strewn during the tornado.

"We’ve got two tubs and a bag so far because these are some of my mom’s only memories, and most of them are torn," Skyler Blake said. "But we can salvage as many as we possibly can -- that is the goal right now."

Jimmie said she knows God will help her through the rebuilding process.

"God is going to walk me through every single day," she said. "He's going to comfort us through the hard losses, the pictures you can't replace, the things you can't replace. You know, our community has showed up for us today, bringing food and sandwiches, helping us clean.

"Our animals are safe. We're safe. (We’ll) start again."