I live in Moore, Oklahoma and while I know it’s “tornado alley”, I’m used to tornadoes and never thought one would affect me. I’m an Okie. They don’t scare me. Until now. Eric (My Husband) and I lost our home on May 20, 2013. Fortunately we were safe and to me that’s all that matters. But how we were saved is a completely different story.
On May 13th, we headed to Plaquemine, Louisiana to visit Max and Ginger Emfinger, Eric’s Family. We were going to stay a week and head back on Sunday the 19th. It’s a nice little drive (10 hours) and we decided to take Charlie with us. Charlie is our baby – an Irish Setter/Chocolate Lab mix. When he was a puppy he was deserted by his family and my aunt brought him to live with us. Needless to say, we spoil Charlie. Not with table scraps or anything like that, but with love and lack of training. Charlie knows how to sit and shake hands, but he is a very excitable dog and needs more training.
Charlie really is a very loving and friendly dog. Anyway, I digress! When we were planning on going to Louisiana, I was very weary of bringing Charlie. He was not neutered and Eric’s parents have a dog, Mr. Goof, who is intact as well. I knew that getting two intact males together could cause a fight, because they are very territorial and full of hormones. I was especially nervous because Charlie had not seen Goof since he was a puppy. Eric insisted he would watch over Charlie so off we went. In the end, it was a good thing we brought him. Though we didn’t realize that at first.
We arrived in Plaquemine Monday night around 11:00 P.M. Instantly there was tension between the two dogs. Charlie started growling and barking, but Eric kept a tight hold on the leash and we put him in the back bedroom. I knew we were in for one crazy week. The next morning, we let Charlie out and followed him as he was familiarizing himself with the house and Goof stayed out of Charlie’s way and Charlie contented himself with chewing on his bone. I thought we were in the clear.
We relaxed a few hours and caught up with our parents, always keeping an eye on Charlie. Goof wondered into the living room to lay down and the next thing we know, Charlie had a hold of Goof’s head. I don’t know if he thought Goof was after his bone or what, but it was a moment of powerful hormone surge. On instinct, Eric jumped up to separate the fight. He didn’t want Charlie to hurt Goof. In the process of trying to pry Charlie off, the tip of Eric’s left index finger was bitten off.
Eric is screaming about his finger and I heard Ginger say, “I see it. Don’t step on it!” I will always remember that. I won’t bog you down with gory details. Max and I took Eric to the hospital and he had emergency surgery. Max had the end of his finger and took it to the hospital, but the Doctor was not able to re-attach the tip, but fortunately it was only down to the first joint.
This, obviously, is when our plans to return home changed. The next day I get a call that Charlie needs to be quarantined for 10 days (even though he was completely up to date on shots) but we want to stay in town anyway so Eric can follow up with the doctor who conducted the surgery on his hand. Eric’s dad repeatedly said that this happened for a reason, but we just didn’t know what that reason was yet.
And he was right. What I forgot to mention is that Eric works nights, so he sleeps during the day. If we had been home the day we planned, Eric would have been sleeping on the afternoon of May 20th. Being a day sleeper, he is used to sleeping through the tornado alarm and dogs barking.
The afternoon of May 20th, I was checking Facebook on my phone and saw that there were storm warnings and a tornado warning in Cleveland County. I wanted to make sure everything was all right so I logged on to the computer to check out the news channels. The internet connection wasn’t all that great so I turned the TV to the Weather Channel just as the tornado touched down in Newcastle. From that point on, I was glued to the TV. Eric and Max were at the store so I was at the house with Ginger and we watched the Tornado moved to Moore.
Every time they would put up a map or an arrow showing the projected direction, I would try to show her where our house was located. I was starting to get really nervous. We actually have a storm shelter in the backyard so I contacted our neighbor to let him know that it was unlocked and he could take shelter. He wasn’t at home, he had driven away from the Tornado, but fortunately he spread the word. He knew a neighbor that I had not really met and he called her. She, her two children, her mother and her sister were planning on riding it out in their house just three houses down from mine. My neighbor got to them just in time. They had no idea that I had a shelter. He was actually on the phone with them as the storm came through until the cell towers were taken out. Five more lives were saved that day.
I’ll never forget that day. I started receiving texts on my phone asking if we were okay. Fortunately I was able to tell everyone that we were completely out of harm’s way. Then I started receiving calls from family that they think my house was in the path. My dad was able to pause a video clip of the Public School Administration Building (my house was directly behind it) and he Googled my address and matched it up. When he told me that, I still didn’t want to believe him. It wasn’t until we received a text from one neighbor and a video from another that it really started to sink in. When Eric and Max got back to the house, I ran outside and told Eric, “I don’t think we have a house anymore.” What a way to greet someone!
One of the hardest things was not being able to be there. We are fortunate to have a wonderful support system and family. My family got together and went over to the site Tuesday and Wednesday (they snuck in) and actually salvaged some pictures and even my wedding dress. We weren’t able to leave Louisiana until the Thursday after the tornado so the first time we saw it in person was Friday, with the insurance adjuster.
I was just speechless. It’s a process for sure, but I think what is helping me get through it is that we are safe, and five other people are safe. Charlie (who has been neutered) is doing well too. He is his loving self and is fine around my sister’s dog Snooki (they grew up together and are buddies). Something that was so out of character for Charlie saved lives. Eric is fine with losing part of his finger if it means he’s alive and so are others. Someone told me that Eric and Charlie actually have a soul contract and are meant to be together. It’s crazy, but after this they’re even closer.
P.S. Eric and I Lost our House and Eric’s car in the Moore, Oklahoma Tornado last month. One of my Friends, Stacey Brooks, helped us to set-up a Website for Donations. Below is a Photo of where we used to live.
I am Stacey Brooks. I have worked with Jennifer Emfinger for the last Eight years at CASA. Many of those in our CASA Network have contacted me asking how they can help and after doing some research, I decided that setting up this fund on GoFundMe was the easiest way for anyone who wanted to help to log on and give a gift.
Jennifer Emfinger has worked for CASA the last Eight years as the Marketing Coordinator. Jennifer develops marketing plans, websites, advertising and more for the Oklahoma State Office and individual CASA Programs. Jennifer is also a CASA Advocate with CASA of Oklahoma County and had the honor of being named 2009 CASA Volunteer of The Year.
Eric is a Security Guard and a former High School All-State Baseball Player for Covington St Paul, Louisiana when they won the 1999 Louisiana State Baseball Championship. Eric also was a Four-Time All-American Baseball Player and he graduated from Louisiana Tech. Jennifer and Eric have been married since May 7, 2011.
This Special Website was built to help assist them in replacing things that are not covered by Insurance, especially Eric’s Car which was Totaled and was not covered fully by Insurance. Please Click the Link and Help if you can.
We want to thank everyone for their amazing acts of kindness and generosity.