Friends by Mail


The Tornado

We were living in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on 3 May 1999 when we learned that a tornado was headed toward us. It was a mile and a half wide and had 250-mile-an-hour winds. We didn’t have time to evacuate. Golfball-sized hail began to fall. We looked out the window, and it was black as far as we could see.

We got into the closet in Mom and Dad’s bedroom. I went into the crawl space with Mom, but the tornado hit before Dad could get everyone else in. Dad lay over Dallin and Brooke and held onto Mom’s hands. The wind was so strong that it nearly pulled us apart. We were crying and praying harder than we ever had. We sang all three verses of “I Am a Child of God.” We heard glass breaking, and then the wind started to die down. Everything was calm.

We came out of the closet and saw glass and debris all over the carpet. Outside, poles were knocked down, and electrical wires were wrapped around everything. Roofs were gone from homes. Someone’s roof was on our front lawn. Some homes had only a slab of cement left. Our home looked a lot better than the homes around us, but we still had a lot of repairing to do. We had to replace the roof, carpet, windows, doors, and siding. All my clothes and toys had glass in them. Some boards had fallen through the roof and broken a toilet. We found someone’s Raggedy Ann doll, a stop sign, pictures, videos, old checks, and lots of other things in our backyard. Ten homes on our street were completely destroyed and had to be bulldozed. Many more had been destroyed on the streets around us. Our whole neighborhood was smashed.

It was not an easy time for us, yet everyone seemed to be cheerful and helpful. The Relief Society president climbed up on roofs and replaced shingles. Our bishop fixed our hot water tank. Church members came from all over to help. They stayed for weeks, sleeping at the church. A member from New Mexico stayed in our home and roofed many houses.

We realized that it really doesn’t matter what you own—it can be taken away in an instant. We can’t take our possessions to heaven anyway. Being happy and together as a family is the important thing. Krystal Richey, age 11 Boise, Idaho

[illustration] Illustrated by Brad Teare