She and her siblings were scattered by the tornado.
When her mother began searching for the children, she first went to an area where the bodies of the deceased had been taken before she headed to the hospital.
“Mom found a little girl that looked like my sister wearing the same type of pajamas with pig tails, in the area among the deceased,” Alexander said. “When she found my sister at the Mooreland hospital, she was actually looking for me and for my brother. She heard someone yell ‘Mom!' and looked and they were shaving my sister's head to get the splinters out.”
Alexander and her siblings survived the tornado.
Today, Alexander lives near Fort Supply in far northwestern Oklahoma. She and husband Tony have a storm shelter at their home. The shelter is about 30 years old.
If weather is moving in, Alexander won't go to bed until it's out of the area, “because I'm watching all the time.”
That leads to a somewhat humorous memory.
One night, storms were moving in, and Alexander called her son who lived next door and said “Get to the cellar.”
The voice on the other end wasn't that of her son, but the person said, “Sue?” She said, “Yes.”
In her haste, she had accidentally dialed someone her son had gone to school with.
She told him she had meant to call her son and he said, “Is it that bad, Sue?” and she replied, “It's that bad.”
The two saw each other awhile later.
Alexander recalls, “He said, ‘Sue we were asleep, we had no idea. I appreciate your call.'”
She was warning the public, one call at a time.
Before May 24, 2011, Lewis never gave much thought to tornadoes.
It just seemed like one of those things that didn't happen that often as far as losing a house, she said. They'd known several people whose homes had been damaged by tornadoes. But it was usually from a much smaller tornado.
So even that day in 2011, when someone told Lewis over the phone that her house had been damaged, she assumed they'd lost their roof or something.
Even though they lost possessions, she said they gained things such as a greater appreciation for every sunrise and sunset and the in-between.
“We have everything we need,” Lewis said. “We have the four of us and a lot of hope to move forward.”
They also gained experience.
Lewis wishes they had invested in a large hard drive, for photos, long before that day.
She wishes they had copied important documents and then stored the originals in a secure location.
“I wish we had kept a backup duffel bag during tornado season with just a few items in it, like a tooth brush and a change of clothes,” she said.
“And most of all, I wish we had done a video audit of our home contents. We should've videoed each room, inside the closets, inside the garage, inside the cabinets, etc.
“When it came time to list out our contents it was really difficult to remember every single item we owned.”
Lewis may have forgotten some things. And Alexander may have been too young to remember many things. But neither will forget their individual stories of the child and the bed and the respect for tornadoes that has developed.
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