Fil-Am family recounts ordeal during tornado

Posted at 05/23/13 5:15 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY - A Filipino-American family who survived the Oklahoma tornado sought refuge in their underground shelter.

The Blaskie family hid in their shelter for two hours as the tornado hit on Monday. But a family member, 24-year-old Rebecca, was working at that time.

For nearly two hours, Filipino-American bank assistant manager feared for her life. Shortly before the tornado hit, she and her coworkers hid underneath a neighboring building.

"I was on the ground covering in the dark and then you hear this loud rumble this roar and the whistling and I don't know if the door swing open to the top of the basement, there were papers swirling around you hear this loud whistling the swirling, but the worse thing, people just started screaming and crying out. I thought the worst was happening. I thought we were going to be sucked out of this basement," said Rebecca.

With tornados frequent in the area, most Oklahoma homes are built with shelters.

Blaskie's family has a 4 foot long six-foot-wide shelter buried some 5 feet into the ground. Her Filipino fiancé Lenin Glass, her parents and three siblings huddled up monitoring Monday's tornado, not knowing how safe Rebecca was.
A few pieces of debris fell onto their backyard but the tornado had skipped over their neighborhood.

"I was terrified knowing it was going to pass by my fiancée. That moment, you just don't know what to think," said Glass.

"It was really scary what happened. And I'm so relieved and really grateful when I see my daughter and I'd be able to hug her," said her mother, Rhoda.

The shopping center where Rebecca's bank is was left in ruins.

Several people in her building that did not find shelter had to be dug out of the rubble. Her fiancé's jeep is among the heap of cars scattered along the highway where Monday's tornado hit the hardest.

"My house is ok. I have friends, they lost their houses, there's nothing left in their house that can be replaced. I'm glad they're ok. That's why that night I was trying to go to sleep I couldn't just thinking about what could've happened," he said.

"Boy Bawang" survives disaster

While insurance will cover his damaged jeep,  Glass has found reason to lighten up when he went to check on his jeep. He pulled out one Filipino survivor unscathed, a bag of Boy Bawang.

"I went to look for some stuff and I found certain things that I wanted and I look below me, I see Boy Bawang. It was still intact, still had pressure in it," he said.

He left his snack there at the scene but a few hours later, a picture of his jeep with the Boy Bawang surfaced on MSNBC.

He's not sure how the bag made its way on top of the wheel, but says he regrets not keeping the Filipino snack as a souvenir and is disappointed that it was gone when he came back the next day.

Since Sunday, many residents spent a lot of time in their shelters as the tornado ravaged parts of central Oklahoma. They hope they don't need to come back in their shelters for a while.