One resident of Moore, Okla., survived Monday’s deadly tornado, that killed 24 and injured 240, in a remarkable way. Horse caretaker and exercise rider Lando Hite said he survived the 2-mile-wide tornado by taking cover in a barn at Orr Family Farm.
Hite told KFOR-TV that despite forecasts from the National Weather service that a potential storm was heading for Oklahoma, he ignored the warnings. The Moore native said he was one of many who didn’t have enough time to take cover in a basement before the storm hit, leaving him with only one option, riding out the storm in a nearby horse stall.
“It was all windy and stuff before the tornado came. I had no idea it was coming. I just figured it was just like yesterday,” said Hite, who said he knew the tornado was critical when he heard complete silence.
“I thought I might have had a little while, so I tried to let some of horses loose and free out of their stalls so they’d have a chance. I didn’t have very long at all,” he said, claiming his only option for refuge was a nearby barn, jumping into one of the horse’s stalls.
“It was unbearably loud and you could see stuff flying everywhere just about like in the movie ‘Twister.’ I jumped into one of the stalls here [and] they collapsed over on top of me," said Hite, who claimed the storm pushed him 100 feet.
The storm, which damaged countless neighborhoods, two schools including Plaza Towers Elementary, and a local hospital, also destroyed Orr Family Farm, Hite’s work-site home, only leaving one out of the six original barns standing.
“[We] lost everything,” he said, saying the death of the farm's 80 horses was his main concern. “These horses are how we survive. These horses are what bring us our meals every day, what brings us our place to sleep and we might have one horse left out of all of us.”
The Orr Family Farm released a statement following Monday’s storm confirming the site and adjacent properties had been completely ravaged, stating workers are still assessing the total loss of animal life on-site.
The New York Daily News reported that despite claims that 51 casualties resulted of Monday’s tornado, only 24 are confirmed dead as of Tuesday, claiming the misreporting was due to the double counting of victim’s names. The total number of those injured is currently 240, with 60 of the victims being children.