It was a tough decision but there was no other option.
Floodwaters were creeping up their driveway.
Staying meant that they could be stuck in their house – the first they’d ever owned – if water poured in. So the Williams family packed up their belongings and fled from their home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
The family may have dodged one disaster. They ran straight into another.
It’s the family’s first home
Jenny and Joshua Williams are proud first-time homebuyers.
She’s a home health-care provider and Domino’s Pizza delivery driver; he’s an Army veteran working as a parts and repair technician.
They spent last Wednesday home from work to pack up and get their animals to a safe place.
Some colleagues came around to fill sandbags and put it around the house to any floodwaters.
Then the couple and their three children headed to Jenny’s brother’s home – in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, on the other side of the Arkansas River.
Tornado roars through Sapulpa
In Sapulpa, they thought they were safe.
Around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Williams awoke to emergency alerts on his phone. There was a tornado warning.
Soon, the lights in the house started flickering.
Before they knew it, a tornado was bearing down outside. It broke the front window and scattered glass throughout the front of the house.
“[I’ve] been overseas during my time in the Army and that by far was the most terrifying ordeal I’d ever experience,” he says. “Just thankful my wife and kids were in the back half of the building.”
They hold out hope for their home
Thankfully, the broken window was the only damage to the residence; it’s already been replaced with plywood. The community suffered some damage and power outages.
The family’s thoughts, and eyes, are still focused on their home on the northern side of the Arkansas River. Floodwaters have been inching up their driveway with each passing day. All they can do is watch through drone videos posted to a community page online.
They’re holding out hope because they don’t have much of a choice.
“It’s honestly heartbreaking, with a feeling of helplessness, while still holding out hope,” Joshua says. “But at the end of the day, it’s a house and just material belongings left in there.”
Home, he says, is wherever family is. And that’s what is most important for the Williams family right now.