GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — A Grand Island man's 10-year-old daughter witnessed firsthand Monday's devastating tornado in Moore, Okla.
Ariana Ahlers, the daughter of Joseph Ahlers and granddaughter of Carrie Arnett and Greg Ahlers, all of Grand Island, attends one of the two Moore elementary schools hit directly by the tornado.
Ariana's mother, Mona Franklin, a registered nurse, was worried about her two daughters' safety as sirens sounded throughout the area 30 minutes before the storm arrived, said Carrie Arnett, Ariana's grandmother.
Franklin had picked up her older daughter, Olivia, 13, and had just arrived at Briarwood Elementary School to pick up Ariana when the tornado struck.
Frankin and her daughters took cover in Ariana's classroom. The air pressure inside the school was so strong that Ariana's glasses were pulled from her face, Arnett said.
Franklin and her daughters were not injured, but Franklin's vehicle was destroyed.
Franklin and the two girls live about three blocks from Blairwood Elementary School, close enough that Ariana normally walked home from school. Their home was destroyed as well, Arnett said.
Arnett and Franklin talked via cellphone briefly about 3:30 p.m. before Arnett lost the call.
“She was crying and screaming, and she said, Our house is gone. Everything is gone,'” Arnett said.
Ariana had just celebrated her 10th birthday on Saturday. Joseph Ahlers had planned to drive to Moore this weekend to pick up his daughter, who will spend the summer in Grand Island with her dad and grandparents.
“Everything that she got for her birthday is gone,” Ahlers said.
Ahlers planned to drive to Moore Tuesday to pick up Ariana. Franklin's other daughter, Olivia will either come with him or go with her father, who lives in Denver, Ahlers said.
Ahlers works for Anderson Auto Group in Grand Island. He said co-workers have said they will help him and his family buy clothes and other items. His church, Trinity United Methodist, also has offered help.
Ahlers said he lived in the Oklahoma City area for eight years before moving back to Grand Island. He met Franklin there. While their relationship didn't work out, he said, they were both blessed with Ariana's birth.