By Jessica Bruha
"Right as I set the phone down, that's when I heard it and I knew I was done," said Michael Thorne, survivor of the April 15 Woodward tornado.
At the time of the tornado, Thorne was renting a house on Cheyenne Drive. Now all that's left is a cement slab and a few scattered items, such as a solitary yellow lego block of Gabriel's, his 5-year-old son, that made it past the hands of volunteers and clean up crews that dozed what was left of his home.
On the night of the tornado, Thorne remembers texting with his best friend, Venessa Taylor, and being awake later than usual. He heard a vehicle and thought somebody might have pulled up but when he opened the door he saw nothing.
He went back into the house, texted Venessa good night, then heard the tornado coming.
"When it hit, I went to turn and I heard the roof and I looked up. The roof lifted maybe just 3 inches and when it lifted, I lifted, and when it fell, I fell," he said. "Then I went to turn and the side of the house exploded and knocked me down."
Thorne remembers standing up after that and believes he got hit in the back of the head a brick. The next thing he knew, he was on the ground and went to roll over to turn back up when he saw half of the ceiling was gone and the other half was starting to fall. All he could do was cover himself as much as he could.
"I was a foot from the closet, which is where essentially I was trying to get, and then I started panicking because the roof caved in on me so I just started digging," he said. "I made my way into the closet, walked up the side of the wall and sat on the roof."
While the tornado was gone just as fast as it hit, Thorne said it seemed like he was in the house for 20 minutes trying to get out. After he made his way out, he sat on the roof staring down in shock at the wreckage that surrounded him.
"I looked over at my son's room and my first thought was 'God I'm glad he was not with me', which will be the only time you hear me say that," he said. "Had Venessa not texted me, I would have been asleep and it would have been a whole other story."
Once at the top of the roof, a police officer ran up to him and asked if he was okay when they heard someone yelling down the darkened street. The officer helped Thorne off the roof and made his way toward the yelling voice.
Thorne then searched for clothes and shoes, and set out to help where he could. Thorne remembers everyone making a group effort to make sure everyone else was okay, even if they were victims of the tornado themselves.
Then another officer approached him and asked if he was okay.
"I said 'yeah I'm fine, why does everybody keep asking me that?' and the officer said, 'because you're covered in blood, we need to find out where you're bleeding," he said.
Thorne ran his hand across the top of his head, and the hand was covered in blood, so much that some of the blood was running down his arm.
As the officer directed him to a squad car, his brother-in-law, Donnie Ashlock, showed up and said he would take him to the hospital. His wound was checked out but he didn't want to stick around, even though he probably should have had stitches.
After a sleepless night at Ashlock's house he returned to the wreckage later Sunday.
"I just kind of sat in shock. I couldn't really believe all of the damage. I had a 3 bedroom brick house with an attached 2 car garage. After my divorce, everything I owned and everything I built up to was in that house. Just to see it and have but one closet and 3 walls standing, it was insane," he said.
Thorne plans on continuing to live in Woodward and while he can't rebuild because he only rented the house, he said the neighborhood was full of great people. Now his plan is to keep moving forward.
"It's the same plan when I got divorced, suck it up and start over again," he said. "You can't change what happened."