Onalaska woman "thankful to be alive" after Oklahoma tornado - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Onalaska woman "thankful to be alive" after living through Oklahoma tornado

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ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- When Monday's tornado struck Moore, Okla., Marie Turk and Laura Tulius experienced three hours of agony. 

Both were waiting to hear from Heather Nisely, Marie's daughter and Laura's sister, who works as a nurse at the Moore hospital. 

Nisely said she, the rest of the hospital's employees and many of its patients were huddled together in the cafeteria as the tornado struck the town of 56-thousand people. 

"Everybody started praying," Nisely said. "I was sitting off in a corner." 

"Then the walls started shaking, the pressure dropped and I reached up and grabbed my ears," she said. 

"It lasted about 20 seconds," Nisely said. "Then a big cloud of debris came through the door. Seconds later there was somebody standing there saying, 'we need to move, we need to move.'

Nisely said as the group from the cafeteria made its way outside, the damage it witnesses was surreal. 

"I'm honestly still in shock," she said. 

"The walls were tilted, the ceiling tiles were hanging and there were light fixtures hanging form the ceiling," Nisely said. 

She said the magnitude of the damage, which included several cars in the parking lot thrown about and stacked on top of one another, made her all the more thankful that she and the rest of the people taking shelter in the cafeteria lived to tell the tale of their experience. 

Nisely said she and a group of her coworkers began walking away from the wreckage. 

When they were roughly three miles from the hospital, her cell phone began working and Nisely was able to send a text to Tulius. 

She then called her mother, who had been waiting for word of her well-being in angst. 

"Laura called me and said, 'Are you watching the weather? There's a tornado in Moore,'" Turk said. "I just lost it... because I knew Heather was at work." 

"My kids mean everything," Turk said. 

Nisely said she knows how her mother felt. She hugged her two children extra tightly when she arrived home in Oklahoma City, roughly 15 minutes from the town of Moore. 

The two kids, as well as Nisely's husband, all made it through the storm safely and their house did not sustain any damage. 

Nisely also said the car she drove to work Monday was a rental -- she had recently had a car accident. So her vehicle was being serviced and did not sustain any damage. 

"I'm just thankful to be alive," Nisely said. "I'm overwhelmed." 

 

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