News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, May 21, 2013
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- She says it's something you can't even fathom unless you've been through it.
"I saw grass sucked out of the ground with holes left. We were told to do what they call the tornado shuffle because we didn't know if there were people's bones underneath the dirt," recalled Valli Finney.
Those are the memories from 1999 when this massive tornado ripped through Oklahoma where Finney was living at the time.
"We could see the stove pipe tornado coming toward us. It was actually on a direct line for our house. That's the only time I ever put a Bible in a safe place. Until you experience it, there's nothing you can say," she explained.
But Finney has experienced it, and as she watched the funnel of power and destruction head straight for her home, she says this is what it's like, "You're more in awe, and then as it gets closer, what keeps running through your head is please let us be safe in our safe room. All you can do is pray."
It's those thoughts that swirled through her mind as Monday's devastating twister wrecked its way through Moore, Okla.
Finney worked as a journalist in tornado alley and knows many of the first responders there.
"Worried about family. As late as midnight, I still didn't know if some of my family members were OK. When you have family who are the first responders on scene and ones who live there, it gets difficult," she said.
What's even harder, Finney says from the destruction she's seen so far, this tornado might be even worse than the one in '99.
"It's going to take months to remove the remnants. Just pray for everybody, and if you're not a praying person, think about them," she begged.
Finney says her friends and family in the area are safe tonight. She started a Facebook page called South Carolinians for Oklahoma Tornado Victims to help take up and send donations of all kinds.
She says from her experience, one of the biggest needs besides money is gloves.