GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Steve and Robin Brown, along with their son, Caleb, all survived the killer tornado in Moore, Oklahoma in a very small underground shelter.
Cynthia Casey of Gulfport said she was texting her sister, Robin, with updates on where the storm was, but didn't hear from anyone in the family until the storm passed.
"According to my sister, there was a lot of noise and a lot of pressure. So when that noise stopped. they knew the storm was over and she was able to get a... phone call to my mom, but it was very broken up," Casey said.
Robin was able to say they were alive, but trapped. Casey was then able to get in touch with Robin's daughter, Megan, who works at a day care nearby. Casey said her niece was hysterical.
"She was able to call 911 and wanted to get to the house to help. She wasn't able to drive because there was so much debris in the road. So she ran... maybe a half a mile to the house," Casey said. "My sister, while in the shelter, was able to call 911, so there were several calls that went through to 911 and several neighbors digging them out."
After about 40 minutes of removing debris, the Brown family emerged from the underground shelter to see their entire street had been demolished.
"She actually sounded pretty calm last night. They had recovered a few things from their house. She was thrilled they found their son's wallet and her safe of jewelry," Casey said.
Spared their lives and a few possessions, the Browns will move forward with much support from their family and friends in South Mississippi.
"We are asking mostly for prayers. People have already sent things that we are going to collect and send to them," Casey said.
The state of Oklahoma set up a website for recovery information, including a tab to donate money to help victims, at www.ok.gov/okstrong.
The American Red Cross is accepting donations to aid in their response. Donations can be made a www.redcross.org or by texting REDCROSS to 90999.
To donate $10 to the Salvation Army, text 80888 or visit donate.salvationarmyusa.org/uss/eds/aok
Heart to Heart is a volunteer group that focuses on health programs: www.hearttoheart.org/donate-now
Feed the Children, an Oklahoma-based charity, has a phone number to handle donations 800-627-4556, and has set up a donation web page: www.feedthechildren.org
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is seeking help. Donors can 405-604-7111, FOOD to 32333 to give $10 to relief efforts or visit www.regionalfoodbank.org.
Samaritan's Purse is sending volunteers armed with chainsaws, generators and other tools to Moore, OK. To donate by phone, call (800) 528-1980, by texting "SP" to 80888 to give a $10 donation (message and data rates may apply), online at SamaritansPurse.org, or by mail to Samaritan's Purse P.O. Box 3000 Boone, NC 28607.