OKC resident rides out May 31 tornado in storm drain

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Sky and wall cloud south of Moore, OK, May 31st at approximately 7.20pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – A tornado roared through Oklahoma City and as it was approaching the home of Bob Patterson, near 59TH and Shalamar Drive, he got his family into a nearby shelter. However, there wasn’t enough room for Patterson, so he took action.

He grabbed a ladder removed a manhole cover in the back of his neighbor’s yard and put the ladder down the drain and climbed down. He brought his neighbor and his dog with him. “We rode out the tornado inside a storm drain. It’s wet and smelly,” said Patterson. “The manhole cover was so heavy that there was no way to pull it back over us,” added Patterson who said he could see debris flying overhead.

Patterson called NewsChannel 4 during the height of the wild weather seeking information. He had no weather radio or a weather app like 4 Warn Me to see or hear the storm coverage.

Patterson went on to say he was worried about his family the whole time he was in the drain.

“We didn’t know if there would be anything left when we came back up so I tried several
different numbers and couldn’t get through to anybody, until I got Joe, “ Patterson said.

Edmond Bureau Chief Joe Kozlowski took Patterson’s call and told him where the dangerous weather was headed and that he should stay below ground for 10 more minutes just to be safe. Joe recommended to Patterson to only leave the storm drain if the water began to rise dangerously high.

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