Tonawanda News

May 21, 2013

Locals relieved family unhurt after tornado

By Lisa Khoury
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News —

Kenmore residents William and Michelle Schisler sat glued to their TV as they waited to hear back from their family in Oklahoma City. A massive tornado devastated a suburb near the city on Monday afternoon, and their son wasn’t answering phone calls for six hours.

Their son, William III, texted them around 10 p.m. He, his wife and one of their two sons were OK. But they were still searching for his 10-year-old son, Kyle, whose elementary school was destroyed in the EF5 tornado — the strongest category of tornadoes measured as reported in CNN.

“It was devastating to me,” William said. “I have 10 grandchildren, and I love all of them. Kyle’s one of my favorites.”

William III texted his parents by midnight and said they found Kyle and the family had been reunited.

“Family all good, dog too,” William III’s text said. “House untouched. We’re truly blessed, I walked through 2 miles of devastation to pick up high school kids in the neighborhood.”

William III’s wife tried to pick up Kyle from school, but was hampered by a bridge that had been destroyed. One of their neighbors ended up finding Kyle.

William III is a master chief petty officer on an Army base in Oklahoma City, which is why he moved his family there from Buffalo. He told his father the town looked like a “war zone.”

The tornado left a trail approximately one mile wide and 17 miles long, killing at least 24 people – including nine children. More than 230 people were injured.

At times, the tornado winds reached between 200 and 210 mph, which made it an EF5.

William, a Marine Corps veteran, said he knows what a war zone is like from his experience in Vietnam, and he wants nothing more than to help all of the victims of the tornado.

“I want to go now,” William said. “I’ll pay for the U-Haul truck, I want to take supplies over there. There are other soldiers that lost their homes there. I’m a veteran, I hate sitting back and doing nothing.”

Michelle strongly believes it was William III’s deceased grandmother Sylvia Schisler who protected his family during the tornado. For the third consecutive year, an Oklahoma City tornado left his family unscathed.

“She died 4 years ago ... ,” Michelle said. “Three years in a row now. That’s what I think saved him. She’s there protecting him. I know she is.”