Hunkered in 'safe room,' Oklahoma family had no idea top floors were blown away
The Wood family's dog, Roxie, stands in front of the family's destroyed home.
May 25th, 2011
03:09 PM ET

Hunkered in 'safe room,' Oklahoma family had no idea top floors were blown away

After crawling and climbing over mangled wooden debris, a couch and a water heater blocking the staircase, we made it, to what used to be the second floor of Frank Wood's home in Piedmont, Oklahoma.

"This is it," Wood said, looking out over his 12-acre lot. "We used to have a beautiful view."

Frank Wood and his two children survived a direct hit on their home by a tornado that ripped across Oklahoma on Tuesday afternoon.

The Woods' home was originally three stories tall, but the top floor is nowhere to be found. Frank Wood's pickup truck is a mangled mess, sitting in a ditch 300 yards from the driveway.

The family survived because of a "safe room" built into the garage. Frank Wood rushed into the safe room and locked it.

Roxie, the Wood family

He says the room is so fortified that he had no idea how bad the damage was until he walked out and realized the top two floors of the house had been blown off.

As the family rushed into the safe room, they weren't able to grab their dog, Roxie. After the storm passed, the kids rushed out to find the tan boxer, but she was gone.

But Wednesday morning, Frank Wood finally got some good news. An oil rig worker almost two miles away had found Roxie wandering around in a field, unscathed except for a small scratch on a front leg.

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Filed under: Oklahoma • On the Ground • Tornadoes
soundoff (143 Responses)
  1. RoseMcB

    I feel so sorry for these poor people in the path of these tornados. I feel like crying every time I see one of these stories. That poor man and those poor kids and their beautiful home. Just rubble. Thank God they are safe and they got their dog back. I'd be crazed if one of my kids or my animals was missing.

    May 26, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. gahh

    So very very sad. It will take years to rebuild homes and lives.

    May 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. retro

    II love how they were able to spend the time videotaping the tornado, but not enough time to grab the dog. I don't understand why, if you are in a tornado area with a storm warning, you wouldn't get your kids and pets together and be ready to go into that room in a moments notice. Kudos to them for building that room though...every house should be required to have one...or a basement...

    May 26, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karyl

      If only...Places like Austin, TX get tornadoes but it's very difficult to put a basement in a ground that is almost solid limestone.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      get a life, and have a little empathy.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • lucy

      Don't be silly. You have a dog running one way and your family going to a safe room where you need to lock the door. What are you supposed to do, risk your life for the dog? Leave the door open and risk the whole family? And the odds that you will catch a runaway boxer are what, none? Please note the dog is fine. This man excercised verey good judgment and doesn't deserve your whining.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • eldono

      I think retro makes a very important point here. We can feel all the "empathy" we want for these people, and where is the responsibility? I wonder if these people ever sat down and discussed what they would do if a tornado hit. Sam, I think you are basically off base in all this discussion.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrEee

      So they said they had the door open and were looking at the dog telling her to come and she wouldn't come into the safe room – how is that their fault? The dog probably freaked out about going in to the enclosed space, but what were they supposed to do, go back out or leave the door open? I assume they could hear the wind picking up and maybe thought it's not that hot of an idea. Geez.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tldixon

    I'm glad they found their furry family member well. I wish them health and safety.

    May 26, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jeez

    "II love how they were able to spend the time videotaping the tornado, but not enough time to grab the dog."

    It's unbelievable really. I feel worse for the dog who was left to fend for himself than the family that lost their home.

    May 26, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      Again. Get a life and have some empathy. no need to question any ones decisions at this point in the game.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • me so Gary

      Its interesting how people who don't have a clue like to criticize others. Have you ever tried to coral a scared dog?

      May 26, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      The dog was a girl...named Roxie...freaking pay attention people!

      May 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Robert

    I do wonder how many in Joplin will add safe rooms into their rebuild plans or will just think that it won't happen again. Safe Rooms look like cheap insurance to me. Better than dead or mangled.

    May 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      I live elsewhere in MO and I'm already pricing a prefab safe room. They're expensive, but what's $5000 for peace of mind and potentially saving my family?

      May 26, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I had never been in a hurricane and didn't know what to expect but, we took the hit, no fatalities, no home damage and I think sometimes after we experience danger we let down our guard. I think a lot of these families didn't expect or prepare for the worse because of pass experiences with tornadoes that didn't do so much damage. God Bless them all.

    May 26, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sparkandsnoot

    The first thing I do during a tornado warning is gather up all five of my animals – three dogs and two cats. Of course I don't have small children, but even when I did all the humans were trained to gather up animals and take them to shelter. Even kids can understand that when they're old enough.

    May 26, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. donna

    I am so glad they found their dog. It makes me cry knowing that other animals weren't so lucky.

    Scientists say the air warmed with climate change is what caused this tornado season to be especially bad. If humans would stop the greedy campaign unbalancing our delicate ecosystems with polluting capitalist industries, none of these disasters would have to happen.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike forsit

      You're right. If humans would only take better care of the environment, then all droughts would cease, flowers would bloom, no more tornadoes, flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. In fact the lion would lay with the lamb, we would have San Diego type weather everywhere, all trees ever cut down would suddenly appear within 36 hrs., and the moon would smile down on us ever more. Because before humans started polluting the earth was in perfect harmony with itself and never changed. It was the Garden of Eden until suddenly people started driving explorers.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. E

    All dogs are my
    Friends

    May 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe in Colorado

    I don't feel a bit sorry for these people. Overbreeding is killing the planet, and Mother Nature will have her way.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Hey Joe, why don't you extract yourself from the planet then, and then we would not have to read your idiotic statements!

      May 26, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • NAM

      Yes, you are probably right about the overbreeding killing our planet. By the way, where was your mother's birth control?

      May 26, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • eldono

      Keith, why don't you extract yourself from the planet so we don't have to read to mean spirited, angry comments.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      eldono, it was not a mean spirited comment, I was just trying to help save the over-populated planet.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      eldono, why don't you extract yourself also and be my hero you be right there with Joe.

      May 26, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. fiona

    I'm glad they are all okay and they found their pet, but how can someone go into the safe room without their dog? I don't understand that at all. The dog should resent them for that, but of course dogs are forgiving of anything. I have lived through several disasters where I had to take cover or flee my property with no warning. The FIRST thing I do is gather my pets and make sure they are safe.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. no name

    WE SHOULD NOT JUDGE THESE PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY MAY NOT HAVE HAD TIME TO CHASE A DOG DOWN AND PLACE HIM IN THE AREA.
    I KNOW I LIVED IN THE SOUTH A LONG TIME AGO WHEN I WAS A CHILD AND WE HAD TORNADO WARNINGS AND I WITHOUT MY PARENTS KNOWING RAN OUT AND GOT THE DOG AND PLACED HIM IN THE HOUSE AND THANK THE LORD THE TORNDADO WENT BEHIND OUT HOUSE AND MISSED THE HOUSE OR WE ALL WOULD HAVE BEEN GONE. WE DID NOT HAVE A SAFE PLACE OR A BASEMENT. WE WERE LEFT WITH HOPE THAT WE DIDN'T GET BLOWN AWAY

    May 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      I can't even read what you said. tone down on the caps please.

      May 26, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fiona

      Stop YELLING!

      May 27, 2011 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
  14. Linda K

    wow, really? My dog had a similar experience, you don't tell the dog 'come', you physically GRAB the dog and pull him in, adernalin kicks in and you just react, put the camera down next time and get your priorities straight. I dunno, dogs are part of the family, you don't shut the door on them! BOZO.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fiona

      Yep. It speaks to the relationship these folks have with their dog, too. My dogs run to me when they are frightened. And they come when I call.

      May 27, 2011 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jason

    Well if the dad wasn't so busy grabbing the camera and going out to film the tornado in order to get his 15 seconds of fame on youtube, he would've had time to grab the dog. Fortunately for them, Roxie survived

    May 26, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
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