Ex-local resident describes terror S.C. responders head to Oklahoma

An aerial view shows the Monday tornado's path through a residential area Tuesday, May 21, 2013, in Moore, Okla. A huge tornado roared through the Oklahoma City suburb Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods and destroying an elementary school. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Tony Gutierrez

Ann Flores, who grew up on Johns Island, was one of the lucky ones.

Her family survived the devastating tornado in Moore, Okla., and their house is still standing.

Even so, she feels uneasy.

“It makes you watch the clouds a whole lot more,” she said. “At any time, this could just happen again.”

On Monday, as the twister bore down, Flores took shelter in the house with 10-year-old son Daniel, daughter Candace, 21, and her newborn.

They fled when Flores saw the size of the funnel cloud on TV.

“Being in the storm, driving away with it on my heels, was the most horrible feeling ever,” she said.

“I was scared out of my mind,” she said. “I felt like I couldn’t drive fast enough, or the people on the road in front of us were in slow motion.”

They beat the twister to Norman Regional Hospital where they took shelter.

“When we got the all-clear notice we headed home to see if we had a home,” she said.

Their house lost a fence and a storm door but was still standing. A block-and-a-half away, other residences were leveled, she said.

Flores, 41, said Tuesday that she hopes to be back home after the power is restored in about 10 days.

Her husband Israel Flores, 42, was staying there with the five family dogs to protect against looters, she said.

She does not know where he weathered the tornado.

“I have yet to ask him that question,” she said.

The rest of the family, including Stephen Lee, 14, will stay in dorms at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Lee stayed at his junior high school until the tornado passed, she said.

Flores said she raced to Briarwood Elementary School to pick up Daniel about 20 minutes before the tornado hit.

“It was really a chaotic experience at the school. There were parents everywhere,” she said.

Nearby Plaza Towers Elementary School was flattened by the storm and Briarwood was also severely hit.

“It was pretty heart-wrenching,” she said.

Flores, who grew up on Johns Island, weathered Hurricane Hugo. She lived in Summerville for 10 years before the family moved west two years ago. Her husband is an Oklahoman who works as a diesel mechanic in Oklahoma City. She is a part-time waitress and bartender.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.