05/21/13 — With family and friends in Oklahoma, Adam Beeby held his breath

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With family and friends in Oklahoma, Adam Beeby held his breath

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 21, 2013 1:46 PM

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Adam Beeby looks through photos on a laptop in his comic book shop, Heroes are Here, from the devastation left behind after the tornado in Oklahoma. Beeby has friends and family in Oklahoma and he is thankful that nobody suffered loss because of the tornado.

Adam Beeby of Goldsboro was one of the people waiting anxiously for news from Oklahoma Monday.

Beeby's brother and family live in Tulsa, and he has extended family and many friends in the Oklahoma City area.

And his news was good -- all those he was able to check on were safe.

"Just about everybody, (the storm) kind of went around," he said. "It didn't hit the areas that I am more familiar with. ... I have not heard individually from every single person, but overall it seems that everybody I know is fine."

Watching the news reports on the tornado's path -- and the devastation it left in its wake -- was not easy, Beeby said.

"I know there is a lot of death and devastation," he said. "I am really trying to pay attention and think 'Do I know somebody there? Do I have family there? Do I have friends there?'"

Beeby said that one of his friends was playing golf on the north side of Oklahoma City when the storm struck. He was not able to reach him, but was able to reach his friend's wife -- and found out he was OK.

"I am not really familiar with Moore," said Beeby, the owner of Heroes are Here on Berkeley Boulevard. "I think we might have played them in ball in high school. It is a suburb of Oklahoma City. I know one person for sure who lived there, but he was fine."

Tornadoes are a part of life in Oklahoma, he said.

"It is something that you grow up with and that you are familiar with. You recognize how destructive it is. Seeing the destruction is just horrific. It tears you up."

But as familiar as he is with the threat, actually seeing the destruction is hard, said Beeby, who grew up in Kingfisher, about 45 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

He recalls one tornado that struck about eight miles north of town when he was a child that jumped his uncle's house, only to destroy the house next door.

"A lot of people have storm shelters, and then a lot of people like when I was a kid and moved out of a house that had a storm shelter, my dad had a key to the church," Beeby said. "We would always go to the basement of the church. He had like a storm kit.

"We'd be down there in the basement of the church -- not really thinking anything, but just knowing that it was raining really hard -- knowing what a tornado was, but not really knowing what a tornado was and what kind of destruction that it could do."

Warnings were quick and everyone from emergency preparedness professionals and meteorologists are attuned to getting information to residents as soon as possible.

Oklahomans rehearse for tornadoes and have plans in place just like North Carolinians do for hurricanes, Beeby said.

"My first hurricane I was scared because I didn't know what to expect," he said. "There was a lot of wind and a lot of rain. But it wasn't like a tornado. With a tornado there is a lot of wind and rain, but it is not the same kind of constant wind and not the same kind of barrage of rain."

The tornado drills and training do pay off, he said.

"One thing about being here, it seems to be more tornadoes than I remember," he said. "A lot of people here get really scared and really freaked out and concerned. I don't because I know what to do. I was in a bank one time and there was a tornado warning. The ladies in there were talking about it. They were scared and concerned. I said, 'Look. If it gets anywhere near here, get in the vault.' They looked at me like I was crazy. I said, 'No. That is the safest place you can be.'

"I tell people if they are in a house to get into the center-most part of the house, a bathroom if you can. Get in a bathtub, cover yourself with a bunch of blankets, and if you can, pull a mattress in there on top of you. That is even better. Don't go outside. Don't get in your car and try and go chase it like in a movie."

Tornadoes behave differently because they are smaller and more isolated, he said. Also, they are a lot more difficult to predict.

"As I have been watching on the news, they have really gotten better at tracking them," he said. "They can see debris they are kicking up on Doppler radar systems."

However, the storms remain random, he said.

"There is always the saying it sounds like a freight train coming," Beeby said. "It is kind of true. If it has been real stormy, and all of a sudden it kind of stops, and it is still dark outside, and you hear that sound you know that it is close.

"If you haven't found shelter already, you need to."