TODAY   |  May 21, 2013

Family searches rubble of home for belongings

A survivor of the Moore, Okla., tornado talks about riding out the storm in a shelter, helping rescue a badly injured neighbor, and beginning the process of digging through his destroyed home for anything he can salvage.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back here in moore, oklahoma, on this tuesday morning on southwest sixth street. i'm matt lauer along with willie geist and this is don bessinger and he is one of the people who lives in what was the home just behind us. don, how are you doing this mo rng?

>> i morning?

>> i'm doing fine.

>> you had quite an afternoon.

>> quite a night, too, couldn't sleep.

>> tell us about the story you and i were just chatting. you got in the bathtub first thinking that was a safe place and changed your mind.

>> yes, i was fixing to go to the bathtub, i had it on channel 4 with mike morgan and he said, it come across he said do not go to -- you got to be underground is what he said. he says will you not survive unless you're underground. and then about the time he did that the power went off, and so i come out to the front street and i kept calling my neighbors, because they have a storm shelter. they wouldn't answer because they were down in the shelter, and the phone wouldn't, no reception. so i had another guy across next door to him we decided to just go in there after we saw the tornado and heard the roar, we took off and about a minute after we got inside, it did hit. and it was devastating. it was just like they say, a roar.

>> we're standing on the slab of your neighbor's home and al and i saw a second ago the folded american flag that ended up on his hearth. tell me a little about him.

>> he is a transfer somewhere from california, he's working for boeing down here, and he's only been around about six, seven months.

>> retired military?

>> i think so.

>> and you actually helped get him out of his house?

>> him and his wife, went to the bathroom and from what i was told he laid on top of her, and then when the direct hit , it took him out in the field and he was hurt pretty bad.

>> do you have any sense of his condition this morning, have you heard anything?

>> i haven't heard a thing. we were very concerned because it took him a long time to get over here because they were taking care of the people in the hospital behind us.

>> and your wife and your son are behind us here, and they're kind of going through what's left. have you found anything?

>> just a wrench. nothing really. she found a couple pictures. that's about it. she's got a cousin that lives in chocktaw, oklahoma. she called my wife last night and she found a picture that caught on her fence of my wife's mother and she passed away about seven years ago. isn't that ironic?

>> don, do you have any sense at all for how long it was from the time you finally got into that shelter until the tornado came through here?

>> it seemed like about four or five minutes. it wasn't very long.

>> close call then?

>> all the debris was hitting the door on the shelter and we thought it was trying to take the door up. we didn't know, so we moved over to the corner of the shelter, because we thought the door was going to take off. it's -- i don't know, it's unnerving. you don't know what to say.

>> we're happy you're alive.

>> thank you.

>> and your wife and son seem to be okay.

>> they are. thank god they wasn't here.

>> thank you for talking to us.

>> you're welcome.

>> our best wishes.