Picture from my personal cell phone.

Interview with ABC News (article and video - 1:26).

Interview with local radio station.

A great website that tells of places to donate to relief can be found here: www.ok.gov/okstrong You can read the descriptions and choose for yourself if you feel like you should donate! Donating to the RedCross does not guarantee the funds will specifically help victims in Oklahoma. I think www.unitedwayokc.org would be best!

Edit: We have been telling the media there were 22 people in the vault but after going over it with the marketing coordinator today I recalled a 9th non-employee in the vault so they may or may not announce it was actually 23.

Edit: Going to try to get the adjuster to go look at my car! If there are any new questions when I check back, I'd be happy to answer them. Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Comments: 981 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

whosthedoginthisscen392 karma

What was in the vault??!!!

denaclarkm391 karma

It was the safety deposit vault so it was hundreds of secure boxes along the walls.

slide_potentiometer385 karma

Did you drop and break your glasses shortly after you came out of the vault?

denaclarkm71 karma

I don't wear glasses.

donknotts60 karma

It's a Twilight Zone episode reference.

denaclarkm84 karma

Haha, I'm unfamiliar..obviously.

MuForceShoelace231 karma

Did you put all the money in your pocket then when someone came you said 'THE WIND BLEW ALL THE MONEY AWAY OH NO!"?

That is what I would have done.

denaclarkm205 karma

Lol. No. There was not any loose cash in the vault. It was actually the safety deposit box vault, so everything was secure and tucked away. Surprisingly I didn't see any money laying around after we emerged from the vault.

OceanRacoon178 karma

Did you ever get the feeling that the entire Earth was going to be destroyed and you'd have to repopulate the planet with the people in the vault with you?

denaclarkm359 karma

Have to say that thought didn't cross my mind. The men in the vault were really nice, but none of them could ever replace or were as handsome as my husband! ;)

An0nymauz113 karma

At any time did it feel like the vault would break open?

Thank you for doing this AMA, I hope you, your family, and people you know are safe.

denaclarkm181 karma

I honestly was very calm, considering the situation. The bank manager, a police officer, and a bank employee had to hold the door closed the entire time because it would not shut completely from the inside...so in my mind (it did not actually happen), I could picture it ripping away. Thank the Lord, it never did.

My family and everyone I know personally are safe. The only thing we lost was my car...I should post a picture of it. People I know through connections have lost their homes and all of their belongings.

AintNoFortunateSon113 karma

What did it sound like?

denaclarkm200 karma

There was lots of popping in the beginning. I remember hearing the glass shatter and the debris even began to squeeze through the cracks of the door. It was very loud. My husband describes it as sounding like a freight train when he recalls the tornado he went through in 1999. I guess I would agree with that, but also the word I can come up with to describe it is "swirling", loud swirling. By the sounds, I knew things were rotating above us.

AintNoFortunateSon91 karma

Sounds utterly terrifying.

denaclarkm267 karma

It was, but at the time I was not feeling those emotions. I was very calm. I believe this is because of my faith in Jesus and knowing I would go to Heaven if I died.

ggill13136 karma

I'm late to the game a bit, but you get so much respect from me for not only stating your opinion on Reddit, but stating it in a de facto sense regarding religion. Kudos and keep on believin'!

denaclarkm7 karma


DrMasterBlaster106 karma

So, are you now a TFCU customer for life? I drove by the former credit union banking today. Wow.

When they say credit unions go the extra mile to keep a customer, they really mean it huh?

denaclarkm171 karma

They REALLY mean it. I've heard of banks turning away customers during the storm who wanted inside because of policies.

I just told a friend, though, I have been singing Tinker Federal Credit Union's praises for YEARS before any of this ever happened. They are THE BEST in Oklahoma.

Annnuh76 karma

You said your husband had been in the May 3, 1999 EF5 tornado so I assume he takes warnings pretty seriously. Did his preparedness help you in any way?

denaclarkm148 karma

He takes warning VERY seriously. At even the slightest hint of severe weather in our area he busts out the flashlights, finds the AM/FM radio, takes the mattress off our bed and places it over the bathtub in an interior bathroom where we would seek shelter if it came to us, puts on his closed-toed shoes, and watches the weathermen as if his life depended on it.

Before Monday, I was much more "chill" during these times. I'd sit out in the living room watching the weathermen..with no shoes on even though he'd tell me to put them on...I'd go outside and look in the sky...(LOTS of people, begin to complain about weather coverage interruptinf their favorite TV shows) and honestly, I've never once believed (not even on Monday) that it would actually come to me.

I'm a believer now.

(Hi Anna!)

no_othername40 karma

As seriously as he takes it, I'm surprised he didnt get a house with a basement or storm shelter.

I dont want to come off as rude or judgmental, or anything, but If I had experienced what he experienced before, that is something I would look for.

That being said, it's great that he is as prepared as he is.

denaclarkm6 karma

You don't sound rude. If I were removed from the situation and looking from your perspective I might think the same thing. My husband and I are newlyweds and we are currently renting. We strongly desire our forever home to have a tornado shelter!

sovanbu51 karma

I don't want this question to come off rude. Believe me I am very sensitive to your situation.

Has this event and recent fluctuations in weather made you think of moving to another area. I.E out of the Midwest?

morgan_freemun123 karma

I'm not the thread starter, but I'll answer as someone who lives in 'Tornado Alley'.

There are natural disasters everywhere. Whether it is earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding. The picture painted by the media over the last week isn't entirely accurate. They make it look like we have devastating tornadoes all the time, we don't. It does seem like we average a few deaths a year, sometimes more. But overall, the chances of being hurt by a twister are very low. The Moore tornado destroyed 30 square miles. That is not typical at all. Most tornadoes do no damage or very little damage.

Just to put into context. The Moore tornado destroyed 30 square miles, the state of Oklahoma is close to 70,000 square miles.

People live in Oklahoma because of the lifestyle. We have some of the lowest cost of living of any state. Our state is one of the most culturally diverse. We have deserts, forests, mountains, mesas, we are one of the only states with all those different landscapes. But the greatest thing about Oklahoma, the people.

Okies are some of the kindest, most caring people you'll meet.

denaclarkm34 karma

Very well said!

morgan_freemun15 karma

Thank you. I'm very glad to hear that you and your family made it through the ordeal safely.

Much love from one Okie to another.

denaclarkm17 karma

Thanks, Morgan! Were you and your family anywhere near? Is everyone okay?

morgan_freemun22 karma

Nope. I live in NE OK, about 2 hours from you guys. We had some bad storms that night but no tornadoes.

But we were doing a heck of a lot of praying that night for all our Moore and Shawnee Okie brothers and sisters.

denaclarkm17 karma

Thank you so much! This is why I LOVE Oklahoma. I think I might have said it earlier, but it was very difficult for me to come up with the words I wanted to pray so THANK YOU for interceding on our behalves!

denaclarkm42 karma

You don't sound rude at all! Oklahoma is our home. My husband and I are born and raised. My husband survived the May 3, 1999 tornado here in OK. His house was leveled and the only two places standing was where his family of seven had sought shelter. That was also an EF5 tornado. Tornadoes come and go all the time during this season, so we're very used to it!

oldspice7510 karma

Why didn't they start building basements there since the 1999 tornado?

Here in NY we hardly have tornados and all the houses have basements.

Is there any charity for tornado victims that you would recommend?

denaclarkm24 karma

Morgan_Freemun's answer is right on. Safe rooms and underground shelters, I would say, are more popular than basements around here. My husband's parents installed an underground shelter in their backyard when their house was being rebuilt after the 1999 tornado.

From what I am hearing, texting the Red Cross does not guarantee your funds will be designated to Oklahoma relief. This website has great info.

I would choose [United Way](www.unitedwayokc.org) or the [BGCO](www.bgco.org/donate)

Thank you so much for asking!

diffikolt44 karma

Is this your first encounter with a tornado?

Did you have any family or friends greatly impacted by the tornado? (Belongings destroyed, lives lost.)

How do you feel about all of the national attention your story has received?

As a personal friend of yours who is still very upset with you, next time tornado weather is predicted, ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP YOUR BUTT AT HOME?!

denaclarkm38 karma

KOLT! Haha.

This is my first PERSONAL encounter with a tornado. My husband lost his home 14 years ago, and of course I've seen news coverage of tornadoes that have affected others I know over the years.

No CLOSE, personal friends who were greatly impacted by the tornadoes, but we definitely know families in our high school's community and church community who have lost their homes and everything inside of them.

It's very strange all the attention our story has received. Very surreal. At times I don't feel like we deserve any of it at all. Of course our story means something to us because it is OUR story, but there are so many others who experienced much, much worst. However, it has been nice in a way in that it has given me a platform to share my faith in Jesus Christ.

I will probably keep my rear end at home next time...or seek shelter in an UNDERGROUND shelter. Above ground wasn't my favorite...

electricbrownies31 karma

Did you have the whole 'life flashing before your eyes' that we all see in tv, movies etc.. And if so did it make the situation any easier to handle.

denaclarkm98 karma

I didn't see my life flash before my eyes. I was trying to pray the entire time, but honestly, I couldn't think of the words I wanted to say. I was also keeping a close eye on the door and trying to take in what others were saying and how they were feeling around me. I remember thinking of my husband and mom and dad because I had no clue what path the tornado was taking and knew that it could be headed their way next.

Of course, my heart was in my throat, but at the same time I felt a peace overwhelm me. I am a Christian and I know I am saved by the Lord's grace. If I die, I know I am going to Heaven and that provided peace for me while we were in the vault.

DaBigPapi26 karma

what was the hardest thing for you?

denaclarkm57 karma

I think the hardest thing for me was not knowing how my husband or the rest of my family was doing. My phone died and when I finally did get it charged cell reception was horrible so it was very hard not being able to hear from all of them immediately.

diffikolt26 karma

Anna was one of the first people to wonder about you. She texted me at my safety meeting at work and prayers were lifted immediately.

Never would have expected to hear anything more than "she's at home, everything's fine."

So many of my friends were in the path. I get teary eyed every time I think of just how close a lot of you came.

denaclarkm31 karma

Everyone's concern and prayers meant SO much. Your family made me feel very loved! I will always treasure the messages I received when they would finally come through. Haven't deleted them yet...want to screenshot and save in a file.

BleedingClouds21 karma

For a region that sees so many tornados, I am astonished at the death toll. There must be under ground bunkers or other safe places to hunker down right? Sirens too? Why is it that so many unfortunate people were unprepared? I heard they had a half hour warning.

denaclarkm34 karma

I would go as far to say that the majority of us were very prepared. We knew as early as last week there would be very sever weather on Monday. Local news stations are reporting warning time was only 16 minutes.

I should ask, what is the death toll you have heard? On Monday night CNN reported over 90 deaths, but it has since been confirmed it was only 24. (Which of course, is still 24 too many). It is fair to say most of us know the exact precautions we should take. Had I have been home, I would have been in an interior bathroom with a radio and the bed mattress above me in the bath tub. I believe the reason why there were so many deaths is because unless you were underground, you "should" have died. Those above ground (like myself) living is truly a miracle. This was an EF5 tornado which is the highest rating a tornado can be given and winds were 200+ mph. It's not that we didn't take our tornado precautions, it's just that the tornado was so severe that they could never have been enough in those 24 cases.

And yes, we have sirens that go off when the storms are near. (They are tested every Saturday at noon). Tornado drills are practiced in schools, I believe, at least 4 times a year. Families are encouraged to prepare and practice their own precautions. Etc.

00100100waggy12 karma


denaclarkm25 karma

I'm sure it would be very confusing, but at the same time our meteorologists are very good about keeping us informed and the skies are very telling when a tornado is on the way.

No one I know does drills during the sirens. I go about whatever I'm doing at the time..they last about 3 minutes and then it's over.

It's kind of funny to be around out-of-towners on a Saturday at noon. They go into panic mode.

yourfaceisamess15 karma

I saw the devastation at the elementary school on the news. Do you think when they rebuild, they would put bunkers in? I don't live in the states but to hear about the tornadoes and to see the larger ones on the news, it definitely poses the question why public schools and other facilities with condensed population wouldn't have bunkers built in them when tornadoes are so common.

denaclarkm34 karma

That has been a really controversial topic over the past week. People have been asking why safe rooms were not there in the first place. I'm not sure when the schools hit were built, but I know a lot of the newer schools in the state have safe rooms in every hall. I can't say for sure, but I would definitely think when they rebuild those rooms will be put into place. It's hard to see them not doing something like that after what has happened.

Typical tornado procedures for schools who do not have safe rooms include children lining up against the classroom's interior wall, kneeling, and placing their hands over their heads in an effort to shield them from any debris. In some tornadoes, this would be more than enough to keep them safe, but this tornado was just so incredibly violent.

Bgtsere14 karma

How many people were in the safe with you? How big was the vault? BTW welcome to reddit :D

denaclarkm26 karma

Thank you, it has been fun so far and an outlet for all these thoughts I've got going through my mind.

Fourteen Credit Union employees, 7 members of the Credit Union, and 1 woman who is not a member but decided to stop at the bank as she noticed the weather turning for the worst.

I'm not exactly sure the dimensions of the vault, but when you look at the pictures of it you have to remember that the actual vault is encased in two feet of concrete all around and then of course the room the safe deposit boxes took up. It was long and skinny. If I was standing facing the vault door I would say one more person could stand next to me shoulder to shoulder.

CrabDragon71314 karma

Hey Dena, I'm currently sitting at the Crossroads Mall! I'm with Centerpoint Energy from Houston helping you guys get your power back online. (Technically, I'm one of the radio guys that supports the linemen with their truck to truck comms) But were here to help you guys in anyways we can.

denaclarkm4 karma

Thanks so much for coming up! Houston is a great place. We have family down there. Your time and effort is so appreciated! You are a hero as well! :)

iam_zork12 karma

I'm so glad you're ok... what did you and the other people who were stuck in the vault talk about? Did you have any idea that the tornado was so mindblowingly destructive or did you realise only when you were rescued?

denaclarkm30 karma

Thank you! Before we were in the middle of the tornado we really were just making small talk - weather, wondering if our families were okay, the police officer who was with us even went outside to see what the skies looked like and came back to relay the information to us. If you're from around here tornadoes are very common and it's safe to say we've all seen lots of them do minimal damage, so in the beginning I honestly didn't think it would come anywhere near us. A lot of Oklahomans (including me before Monday) don't heed the warnings we are given as much as we should because we've never been through it before. During the tornado I don't know that anyone was talking to each other - I'm sure the couples or people who knew each other beforehand were...but mainly I heard people screaming, crying, and praying. The branch manager asked people to help her hold the door at one point and when it was go time she yelled, "Don't let go!" three times. After the tornado passed we began to panic and discuss the fact that we could smell gas.

PounderMcNasty6 karma

How much money did you steal? Honestly.

denaclarkm7 karma

Haha. I didn't steal any. There was no loose cash in the vault. I'm sure it would have been tempting, but I'm too much of a rule follower to try to do something like that.

noel3453 karma

Just gonna drop in and say I admire your openness of your Christian faith on reddit. Not very many people out there like you. I'm so thankful that you were kept safe during the tornado!

denaclarkm7 karma

Thanks! I was given warning it might not be well-received...but that's okay. Not everyone has the same beliefs, and I understand that, but because I believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, it would be wrong of me not to share it with others. Most everyone has been friendly and respectful! :)

miiaaaaaaaaa1 karma

Hey Dena i havent been following the news much in the last few days im from ontario. Could you please let me know in your own words what happened and the devastation is like there?

denaclarkm0 karma

The article linked above and especially the radio interview is a great account of what actually happened.

The devastation here is unreal. It looks like a war zone. Here are some before and after pictures of places affected by the tornado.

And more

It is truly awful, but Oklahomans are very resilient and receiving support from all over the world!

le_9gag_is_le_best-27 karma

lel this is so le trole you are just trying to karmawhore stop lying

denaclarkm9 karma

I'm sorry, I don't know exactly what you're trying to say. This is the first time I've ever been on reddit so I don't know the "rules". I guess karma is when you press the up arrow and I'm not "supposed" to do that on my own comments? I think that's what you mean. Like I said, first timer here...