The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

May 25, 2013

Tornado upon them, quick choices decided fate

— MOORE, Okla. (AP) — They say you should never make a big decision when you're emotional. But what if there's barely a moment to think and a life-or-death choice looming?

In those last horrifying minutes before the EF5 tornado struck, there was no time for reflection or regret. Just questions needing answers, right now.

Does a pregnant woman go to find her daughter, or protect the life growing inside her?

Does a husband risk his life to go back for the family pets?

Do you listen to a spouse on the other end of the telephone, or to the little voice in your heart?

With death staring them in the face and adrenaline coursing through their veins, the citizens of Moore were faced with the biggest decisions of their lives, and they had nothing to go on but gut instinct amid raw terror.

___

As she ran from room to room, Cindy Sasnett prayed to God for help and cursed herself for not being better prepared.

"What was I thinking?" she remonstrated herself for not insisting they build a storm shelter. "We should have had one. If anything, for the children."

The day of the tornado, husband Jim Sasnett, machinist, was at work about 10 miles away in Oklahoma City. Cindy, who runs a daycare out of their 1,600-square-foot home, had six charges that day, including her 2-year-old grandson, Jack.

About an hour and a half before the storm hit, parents of four kids had come to retrieve them. The fifth, Rob Willis, was on his way from Edmond to get 2-year-old Cade, but was stuck in traffic.

The couple had talked about installing a shelter after devastating tornadoes struck Moore in 1999 and again in 2003. But lack of funds or just rank procrastination always seemed to conquer the fear.

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