Family describes race to save loved ones from EF3 tornado

EL RENO, Okla. - “I couldn’t remember anything; I was scared to death," said tornado survivor Amanda Wenninger.

Wenninger and her daughter were protected by just a wall.

“There was a piece of wood on me, or a wall or just something big, and I’m kinda thankful for that because I think that protected me from a lot but I’m really glad because not just that protected me more but it protected my daughter, as well,” she said.

The last thing Wenninger said she remembers was grabbing her daughter and pulling her to safety.

“Well, then, the lights went off so, then, something inside of me, right in my gut, it just told me to grab her," she said. "So, I just grabbed her, and I swooped her up in my arms like this and I put her head in my chest. I just followed my gut instinct, and I’m really glad I did because, if I would’ve lost her or something, it would’ve been really hard."

Wenninger woke up outside, terrified and confused.

“I remember, when I woke up with her in my arms, she wasn’t responding, so I got really scared but I said her name. I was like... it's momma, and she kinda moved her head and I said... we’re fine, we’re gonna get up,” she said.

The deadly tornado wiped out Wenninger's home.

“I was still waiting to hear sirens or something,” she said. “My muscles were hanging out of my leg, but I was still walking because my adrenaline was going."

Shortly after, Wenninger's family friends arrived, searching the rubble for her roommate, Jaicey.

“Fear, wondering if you’re going to find somebody alive, or dead or anything like that,” said Steven Erickson.

All of them found it hard to believe what they were hearing and seeing.

Family friend Shana Erickson stayed on the phone with Jaicey's mom while her husband, Steven, looked through the rubble for Jaicey.

“I know there’s tornadoes, and I know people lose their lives but not somebody so close and dear to me,” Shana said.

“It’s kinda hard to go through all that. It’s... pretty intense,” Steven said.

Monday, Jaicey is still in the hospital.

“They have nothing, and she’s still in there, in the hospital,” Shana said.

They are all thankful that their loved ones lived to see another day.

“It’s just very emotional. I mean they’re lucky to be alive," Shana said.

"I'm just thankful to be alive and that my daughter is safe," Wenninger said.

To help Jaicey, you can donate here.

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