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Two Fresno State students share their stories from Oklahoma

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Two Fresno State women's basketball players are from Oklahoma, and returned home Monday. One of them was just a few miles away from Moore, where the tornado touched down.

Toni Smith's hometown is about six miles from Moore. She just flew home from Fresno Monday. It was a nine month homecoming she was so excited for, until she found herself scared and hiding in a bathtub.

The devastation in Oklahoma has been heartbreaking for sophomore forward Toni Smith. After her first year at college, she returned home Monday to storms and weather that was never a worry in Fresno.

Just hours after she got home, sirens started going off in Del City, Oklahoma and Smith knew she had to find a safe shelter right away.

"It was a bunch of loudness and rain," said Smith. "Everything it was so hot outside and it started to get real quiet and so that's when you know the tornado is close."

For two hours, Smith sat in a bathtub with her best friend. They listened to the radio on their cell phone to hear what was going on around them. Once the tornado passed, the two looked outside to see the immediate devastation.

"About 10 minutes after that, I looked up and everything happened and the Moore area was so, like crazy. Like it was just destroyed," said Smith. "When you walked outside of the apartment, it was like traffic was backed up all the way from the Moore area."

Hours after the tornado, Taylor Thompson flew over the damage. She was heading home to Oklahoma after graduating from Fresno State this weekend. The former point guard could see the frantic efforts of rescuers from the air.

Thompson said, "It was pitch black where it went through and you could see where they had the spotlights on where they were trying to, you know, find people and rescue people and you know work on all that damage that was done."

The tragedy has been a bittersweet return home for both women. All day long they have been watching news coverage of the ruined areas. Both are hoping to volunteer to help the victims rebuild their lives.

Smith says she is collecting toiletries and other items to donate to those who lost everything.

Thompson says she is also anxious to help on the ground but right now only first responders are being asked to go to the areas most affected.

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Tags:
tornado, fresno state, local, sontaya rose
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