Oklahoma family narrowly escaped death during tornado

(CBS News) MOORE, Okla. -- Jamie Falwell climbed into a tub Monday afternoon to protect herself and her son, Easton.

Jamie Falwell had sought shelter from the tornado with her son in their bathtub.
Jamie Falwell had sought shelter from the tornado with her son in their bathtub.
CBS News

Jamie was all alone in her house with her two-year-old son, and the tornado was bearing down.

"I was terrified, but I didn't want him to be scared," she said. "I just thought, 'I'll hold onto him.'"

What Jamie didn't know was that her husband, Matt, was racing home.

"I just wanted to get home, you know?" he said. "I didn't want them to be by themselves or anything, so I just wanted to hurry up and get home."

Jamie Falwell
Jamie Falwell
CBS News

They ran for their next-door neighbor's underground storm shelter, but their backyard fence had a door that was jammed. Matt ripped the door off the fence.

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"I didn't know I pulled it that hard -- it was just adrenaline, and it came off," Matt said.

Then they couldn't find their neighbor's shelter.

Watch: Family's last-minute decision likely saved their lives, below.

"I thought, 'Well, we were wrong,'" Matt said. "I mean, it wasn't there. So there was a shed standing there where it used to be. I thought maybe it was inside. It turns out that he did build a shed around it."

Matt Falwell showed us the underground shelter. Their home was destroyed, like most of their neighborhood.

"I never imagined seeing this when I stepped out," Jamie said. "I wouldn't have been able to pick out anything here."

Matt Falwell
Matt Falwell
CBS News

"You were thinking, you know, you look around and you're like, 'A house is supposed to be there,' and it's not," Matt said. "This is supposed to be here and it's not, and everything is just turned to rubble."

While their house is in shreds, their family is not.

"Our family is safe," Jamie said. "I mean, we can -- we're not even thinking about what we rebuild with, where we rebuild. It's sad going through the house, thinking, 'Oh, I saved this for so long and now it's gone.' Who cares?"

The Falwells spent 45 minutes in that shelter, but it gave them the chance to rebuild their lives together.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.