MOORE — In a new chair surrounded by old paintings, a woman quietly tells the story of how her house was blown away by a tornado. Twice.
Nancy Davis, 95, has survived two major tornadoes. On May 3, 1999, she took refuge under a bed only to have her home blown down around her. She lived to tell the tale and rebuild her home, only to relive the nightmare when another tornado blew away her new house on May 20.
When the F5 tornado hit Moore last year, Davis was underground in her shelter with her niece, Kay Taylor, a neighbor and her small child, a pregnant woman and a few other people. When she emerged after the storm, she found her barn gone and her house demolished. She described the horror and how it sounded.
“Both of them were terrible,” Davis said. “It tore the brick off, and you could hear it: kapow.” She said it was so loud the people in the shelter couldn’t hear each other talk.
Davis called Deacon Byron Jacobson from St. Mark’s Catholic Church and told him her house had been demolished. He said he’d be there to pick her up in a few minutes. Jacobson and his wife, Cheryl, took her in and fixed her a room in their home.
“I enjoyed it the whole time I was there,” Davis said of staying with the Jacobsons. “They are so precious.”
After a time, the Jacobsons took Davis to visit Brookhaven Mansions, a senior living community in Norman, but Davis didn’t commit right away. She said she needed time to think. In reality, she wanted to go and see her house, but others advised against it.
Eventually, some of her friends brought her a few of her belongings — pictures she had painted and two poems her late husband of 57 years had written to her. Someone had looted money stashed in one of the poems, and many of her possessions were destroyed.
Then one day, Davis walked into Brookhaven Mansions with a set of sheets under her arm, said Melva Noakes, director at Brookhaven Mansions. Noakes greeted Davis and asked if she could help her.
“I’m moving in today,” Noakes remembers Davis saying. She took the sheets and asked Davis if she’d had lunch. When Davis said she hadn’t, Noakes took her to the dining room and said she’d show her the apartment after lunch.
Noakes quickly called her staff together. In the time it took Davis to eat her lunch and relax a bit, Noakes and her staff had moved everything from the model apartment into Davis’ new apartment.
And the sheets fit just fine.
‘A beautiful lady’
“It’s wonderful how everyone pulls together and keeps on giving,” Noakes said. “We’re just thankful to have her. She’s a hoot. She’s very much with it. She’s a beautiful lady.”
Davis’ beauty is matched by her compassion, especially for the children who died in the tornado and their families.
“It was so awful. Why couldn’t they have lived and not me? Those people losing children may turn away from life. Why can’t those little children live? It was so fantastically bad.”
But Davis was spared a second time and wanted to rebuild her house again, despite people discouraging her from doing so. But having lived on an acreage, she was feeling claustrophobic in her apartment and really missed her tomato plants.
So she dusted herself off, called her insurance agent and hatched a plan.
“I came back to my land,” Davis said from her fifth-wheel travel trailer overlooking the construction of her home. “I like it out here.”