PIEDMONT — Heritage Hall sophomore basketball player Tanner Tepe was trying to study for an Algebra final Tuesday afternoon at his home in Piedmont
But when he heard a tornado was near El Reno, he paid close attention. And when he heard Piedmont residents needed to take shelter, he listened.
Tepe and his mother went into their storm shelter and sat there for more than 20 minutes, Tepe said.
“Then there was a calm, a dead calm,” Tepe said. “I thought that it meant we were OK and could leave. I got out of the shelter and saw a funnel cloud about a mile away from the house and got right back into the shelter.”
The door to the shelter was blown away, but the Tepe family was unharmed. When Tanner Tepe stepped out of the shelter, he saw that his house was destroyed.
“All I saw was wood everywhere,” Tepe said. “It was crazy. I didn't know what to think. I'm still kind of in shock.”
Tepe stayed the night at a friend's house, while his parents stayed at a hotel. Tepe said he plans on staying with friends until everything is sorted out.
One of the first things Tepe did was tweet on his Twitter account to let his friends know that everything was OK.
“It was great to have all that support,” Tepe said. “There's no better feeling than having your phone blowing up with people wondering how you're doing.
“It's going to be a new start. We don't know where yet, but the support has meant a lot to me and my family.”
The Piedmont area suffered major damage, but Piedmont schools were relatively unharmed, said softball coach Rick Scott.
“North of town is pretty bad, but the schools are OK,” Scott said. “Had it (the tornado) turned, it would have been really bad.”
Scott said the only thing that helped was how far apart the houses are in the Piedmont area.
“They're spread out, but it was a still rough day. Our prayers go out to everybody,” Scott said.
Washington coach's house destroyed
Washington athletic director Stuart McPherson said Washington Public Schools didn't suffer a lot of damage, but the house of football coach Brad Beller was destroyed.
McPherson said Beller and his family went into a storm cellar, and everybody stayed safe.
“We were there within 20 minutes of it happening,” McPherson said. “They were able to get a lot of their salvageable possessions last night.”