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A Pacifica woman who is a student at the University of Oklahoma drove through the city of Moore just before the deadly tornado touched down. Terry McSweeney reports.
The tragedy caused by the tornado in Oklahoma has touched a Bay Area family.
Melissa Simpson of Pacifica is a 20-year-old student at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, about 15 miles from the devastated city of Moore, where the death toll on Monday rose to at least 51 and counting.
"Before the tornado hit on Monday, I drove to Oklahoma City right through Moore and back, and everything was fine. We 've been getting lots of sirens recently - that's just springtime in Oklahoma," Simpson said.
Simpson and her friends heard the warning sirens and they went to the shelter on campus. That's when they saw the television pictures from Moore.
"Everyone started really freaking out," she said.
About 1,500 miles to the west, in Pacifica, Simpson's mother, Laure, was also freaking out.
"Having no control over your daughter when they are that far away put me in panic mode because there is nothing I could do about it," she said.
Finally Laure got a hold of her daughter, then suddenly, things got even worse.
"She was telling me how horrible it was and all of a sudden, I lost the phone connection. My heart just stopped," she said.
It's probably good that Laurie did not see the pictures being tweeted by Melissa's friend. She'd gone to a movie theater in Moore and when she came out, the theater's exterior was severely damaged and the parking lot was a picture of broken windshields and vehicle damage.
Until Monday, Melissa had strolled to shelters when the sirens went off.
"I think I will be taking them more seriously", Simspon said.
Despite all the emotions in trying to check on her daughter, Laure feels she should continue her education in Oklahoma because she can handle just about anything.
"She's been through earthquakes," her mom said. "She's who you want to be within a disaster."
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