An Oklahoma tornado survivor with New York City roots is thankful he and his family escaped serious harm but now faces the devastating dilemma of whether to abandon the life he has built in Moore.
Saad Muhammed lives in the western part of Moore, close to the Oklahoma City border. Originally from East Flatbush, he left Brooklyn in the late 1980s and has been living in Oklahoma for the last 18 years.
He was inside his home with his wife, Desiree, and their twin teenage boys when the tornado swept through. Saad ushered them into a tiny closet.
"I put the blanket on them, and I jumped on top of the blanket -- just in case something came down and hit me first, so I could protect them," he told NBC 4 New York.
"Our ears started popping, and we just went in there and we were like, 'It's coming now,'" his wife said. "And we could hear, it was almost like a train."
Saad walked NBC 4 New York through his tornado-ravaged home on South Robinson Avenue in Moore Wednesday. Debris was scattered everywhere, and part of his roof was ripped off. The ceiling was caved in, with a 2-by-4 protruding through the living room ceiling. His children's bedrooms were turned upside down.
With 18 years of memories, Saad and his wife aren't quite ready to say goodbye.
"It's now hitting me, how difficult it is to know that you're not coming back," said his wife. "And I keep wanting to come back here."
"This is the hard part: We're at a friend's house, and I wake up and I'm thinking I'm in my bed. But it takes that few seconds and then I just keep wanting to come here, and I don't want them to tear this part down," she said. "I know it's just a house, but it's my house."
The Muhammeds have homeowners insurance and are faced with three choices: they can rebuild on their existing property, rebuild elsewhere in Moore or take a lower cut and move somewhere else.