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Former area woman witnessed tornado

May 21, 2013
By DAVE GOSSETT - For The Weirton Daily Times (dgossett@heraldstaronline.com) , Weirton Daily Times

OKLAHOMA CITY - Marissa Dzomba knew a tornado was likely when she went to work Monday.

She had watched Sunday afternoon as a tornado moved across Oklahoma City.

"And, all the newscasts were warning of severe weather Monday afternoon," Dzomba said as she headed to her job in domestic sales at the Hertz corporate office building at the north side of Oklahoma City.

Article Photos

RECOUNTS TORNADO — Marissa Dzomba, a 2004 Catholic Central High School graduate poses for a photo with her boyfriend, Tim Gourkey, and their dog, Lily, at their home in Oklahoma City. -- Contributed

"The weather forecasts here are exceptional. They tell you when the tornados are coming and predict the path they will take through the area. All day the news was warning everyone to expect severe weather and tornado warnings had been issued. The sirens started going off shortly after 3 p.m. here. We knew when the weather would hit us, but we didn't know how bad it would be," the Steubenville native said in a cell phone interview late Monday night.

"Then the hail started to hit our building. The hail was the size of golf balls and was just pounding against the walls of the building as well as the windows. The noise was unbelievable. The lobby roof in our building is all glass so we were warned to stay away from that area. First it was the noise from the hail and then you could hear the roar of the wind," Dzomba said.

"That's when everyone was told to go to our tornado shelter room in the basement. You couldn't hear the hail or the wind because we were below ground level and everyone was talking. But we could still hear the warning sirens. It was eerie at times while we waited," the 27-year-old related.

"It was scary, but not terrifying. We were probably about three miles from the tornado," she noted.

"I work with several people who live in Moore and they already knew their homes were gone. That is incredible. In just a few minutes their homes were destroyed and everything was gone. At least four people I know have lost their houses and cars," remarked Dzomba.

Her friend Tim Gourkey, a Pittsburgh native, picked Dzomba up after her afternoon shift ended.

The normal five-minute commute home took more than 10 minutes as they avoided downed trees and debris in the streets.

"Tim is very worried about a friend from his job because he lives in Moore and no one can contact him. We don't know if he is hurt or just can't be reached because the phone lines and cell towers are down. His friends are already talking about going to Moore to look for him," said Dzomba.

"Tim works as the maintenance manager at Hobby Lobby in Oklahoma City. He could see the storm moving across the sky overhead. He could actually see the clouds rotating," she said.

"The Sunday tornado passed us. It landed right around our old apartment. It's moving in the opposite direction from us," Dzomba posted on social media Sunday.

Dzomba also posted a message Monday evening indicating she was fine following the deadly tornado.

The 2004 Catholic Central High School graduate moved to Oklahoma City three years ago and said Monday night she still enjoys the area.

"It is a good place to live. The tornadoes are always in the back of your mind. But the tornado season is only two months out of the year. The rest of the year it is beautiful here," Dzomba said.

"I was just home for a couple weeks to be in a friend's wedding. Then I came back just in time for these storms," Dzomba added.

The National Weather Service issued an initial finding that the Monday tornado was an EF-4, the second most-powerful type of twister.

(Gossett can be contacted at dgossett@heraldstaronline.com)

 
 

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