Sulphur tornado survivor speaks of her survival


Sulphur, Okla. (KFOR) — As communities across the state continue clean up and recovery, stories of survival are emerging from the rubble. Sixty-eight-year-old Elaine Guilloz of Sulphur shared with KFOR what it was like living through a tornado.

She works with students at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf and his deaf herself, but with a sign language interpreter, she answered our questions and sat down with News Four’s Joleen Chaney for this interview.

“All sudden I felt this sound even as deaf as I am. I hear a deep groan and I look, and there it was. The tornado,” Elaine said. “I mean, it’s just rolling, passing by, and I see the debris flying around.”

Elaine thought she had enough time to drive to a shelter.

“It’s here,” she said. “It’s in front of our house.”

She tried to run back inside and take cover in her bathtub, but time had run out.

“As I turned to see what was going on behind me, because I heard this awful noise, I turn, and I look. There was the tornado,” Elaine said. “It happened so fast. As I was stepping up, I felt that pull, and it slammed me down boom on my face. I felt a scratch on my feet, and I was lying flat with the water flooding up around me, and I was just saying, “Oh, God. What’s going on?”

When the tornado had passed, Elaine lifted her head and looked around. She was alive.

“I see a lot of trash and debris, and I looked around, and I saw a panel that looks like it came from my living room, and I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness.’”

Her attention then turned to her pain.

“Then I went to look at my leg to see what I was feeling. I pull my leg out and see my foot dangling, and it’s like watching a war movie, a horror movie. I see the blood spitting out and bones and flesh,” she said. “Survival mode. I had to get into survival.”

Elaine managed to reach inside the trunk of a car, grabbed a towel, and wrapped it around her foot. A steel beam had crushed her legs. Like many tornado victims that day, Elaine was rushed to OU Health. Doctors amputated her foot.

“When we got here really early in the morning, and everything kind of started rolling in around three, 4 a.m. and basically operated all day trying to help people out and take care of a lot of these bad, traumatic injuries were happening,” Dr. Conner Patrick said. “Elaine was high fiving the anesthesiologists and us with the surgery team, giving us fist bumps on the way out of the room. It was incredible. I mean, her optimism and passion and just, you know, good spirits despite all this, were truly inspiring.”

“It’s amazing I survived,” Elaine said. “I think part of it is god. God has taken care of us.”

You may have noticed that Elaine was signing throughout that interview. She said she did that for her students and hopes that there will one day be tornado warnings for the ASL community.

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