“Most terrifying thing I’ve ever gone through,” May 2003 tornado survivor talks about life-altering experience

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MOORE, Okla. - A woman who survived the May 8th, 2003 tornado is finally talking about the life-altering experience.

Terri Campbell remembers being stuck on I-35 with her three grandchildren and nowhere to go.

“It was the most terrifying thing I've ever gone through, and I really thought we were all going to die,” Campbell said.

Even though 13 years have passed, the memories of that day are still very vivid.

On May 8th, 2003, Campbell and her three grandchildren were caught in the middle of a tornado.

“I was in a convertible. 5-year-old up here, 3-year-old was right there and the 10-month-old was behind me,” Campbell said.

Campbell had just got on I-35 from Shields.

“This tornado just came over the buildings, and there was no place to go,” Campbell said.

She put her car in park and told her oldest grandkid to keep her head down then climbed to the back seat.

“I put my hand on top of the 3-year-old and, I laid across the 10-month-old, because he, of course, didn't know. I had to protect him,” Campbell said.

They were in the eye of the tornado.

She said it was silent at times, watching the debris circling counter-clockwise around them.

She cried until it was over.

"When I realized that we were okay, I put my car in drive, and I drove home. It was beat to death, my car was totaled, but we were alive,” Campbell said.

Still in shock, her then 5-year-old granddaughter, now 18, said something that stuck with her.

“She said 'Nana, did you know Jesus saved us?' And, I said 'Yes, he certainly did,'” Campbell said.

Campbell said it's crucial to pay attention to the weather, stay off the road if possible and seek shelter.

Her heart goes out to the families of the most recent victims of the tornado outbreak in southern Oklahoma.

"It breaks my heart, because I could've lost my three grandbabies," Campbell said.

Campbell said she has lived in Moore for more than three decades and loves it because of the strong community, and it’s home.

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