EUCHA — Vanessa Barrows describes the one-minute whirlwind that threw her mobile home on top of a propane tank and inches from free-falling down a 100-foot hillside as “like riding in a flippin' carnival ride.”
Vanessa and her husband, Billy Barrows, and their three children live on a hilltop in the Eucha area, which is five miles west of Jay, in central Delaware County.
The family's mobile home was dead center in a violent storm's 100-yard path Thursday evening. Strong winds lifted and rolled the mobile home twice with the family inside, dropping it on the hillside, where it landed on a propane tank. A tree kept it from plunging down the hillside, Barrows said.
The family was watching the news when the television signal went out. About 10 minutes later, a tree was blown down.
Vanessa Barrows grabbed the couple›s daughters, ages 3 and 6, while Billy Barrows grabbed their 9-year-old son and was closing the front door.
“There was no time to scream,” Vanessa Barrows said.
The frame of the mobile home twisted and tore apart as it rolled over a tree stump, she said.
“Everything was just falling,” she said. “The ceiling was now the floor.”
The couple held on to the children throughout the whirlwind. After the winds died down, the family was lying under broken glass and furniture. Billy Barrows was pinned beneath a pile of debris.
Other than a minor ankle injury to the couple's youngest daughter, the family survived the nightmare with just a few bumps and bruises, Vanessa Barrows said.
They are staying with relatives, and the American Red Cross has given them clothing and food vouchers.
But the biggest loss is their home.
“We didn't have insurance,” Vanessa Barrows said. “We are going to have to start over, but that's OK — we are alive.”
The National Weather Service in Tulsa hasn't confirmed whether the storm was a tornado. Crews are expected to be in Delaware County this weekend, said Joe Sellers, meteorologist.
The destruction of the mobile home in the Eucha area was the only structural damage reported in that area, said Robert Real, Delaware County emergency management director.
No funnel clouds were reported, but two cloud rotations were seen over Grove and the Eucha area on a Doppler weather radar, Real said.