Doresa Byus gripped her steering wheel, closed her eyes and prayed Monday night when a tornado lifted her sport utility vehicle off the road west of McLoud. The thick, brown swirl of dust and debris was the last thing she saw before closing her eyes. "It’s a hard feeling to describe,” she said. "You just feel helpless. There’s nothing you can do. There’s nowhere you can go.” Byus was driving home to McLoud from Midwest City. She had been watching the sky and listening for news from her husband’s calls and the radio, but the signal kept cutting out. She said she didn’t see the tornado until it was right beside her on SE 29 Street, east of Peebly Road. The next thing she knew, her Isuzu Rodeo was being enveloped. The rear window shattered and the front windshield cracked like a spider’s web, Byus said. She felt a whoosh of air and she thought her roof had blown away, but Byus kept her eyes closed. In a matter of minutes, the tornado released her car and moved away, leveling several houses in its path. "It was like being in a ride,” Byus said. "It just twisted and dropped.” She expected to find her car on top of someone’s roof. To her surprise, the car was mostly intact and resting in the road near where it had been. The tornado had spun the SUV in a circle, Byus said. She pulled shingles out from under her windshield wipers and looked around. Houses on both sides of the road were destroyed, but Byus was unhurt. Several other drivers who were in the tornado’s path also were OK, she said. Power lines were down in front of them and emergency workers blocked the road behind. Byus’ husband, Claude, who is a layout manager for the pressroom at The Oklahoman, feared the worst. He had been trying to call his wife since he heard about a tornado that touched down near Choctaw Road — not far from where she was driving. Claude Byus said he was going to tell his wife to get off the road, but the signal wouldn’t go through. He set out to look for her as soon as the storms passed. He reached the point where the road was blocked, just over the hill from his wife. He was turning around to find another way when she called. She managed to tell him she was OK before the signal cut out, he said. "I know that God just kind of had his hand on her right then,” Byus said. "That’s our belief. All I can say is thank you.”
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