Barnsdall man planned to retire with wife, now has to rebuild home after tornado

BARNSDALL, Okla. — Tulsa’s Investigative Reporter Janna Clark talked to a man in Barnsdall who was planning to retire with his wife and now has to rebuild his home after Monday night’s tornado.

Jack Swift and his wife Maria were 1,461 miles away from their home in Barnsdall on Monday night.

They told FOX23 they were in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

FOX23 asked what they were thinking when they knew it was coming into Barnsdall.

“It wouldn’t hit us,” Jack said.

After an EF-4 tornado did hit their town, they didn’t know for hours.

He said they drove 26 hours straight and at one point talked to their son about checking on their place.

“My son asked me about the truck keys and my wife immediately said ‘they’re hanging by the front door,’” Jack said. “And he’s like, there’s no door.”

Once they finally got home, they saw the damage.

“Pictures or stuff, that doesn’t do it justice,” Swift said. “I mean, you could say it looks like a bomb went off.”

“It’s just unbelievable,” he said.

Jack and Maria had planned to retire in Barnsdall. They had been working hard to redo their home.

“Two years away from retirement, and we bought the place, and we’ve been over the last 10 years been fixing it up, put new roof, new siding, built a nice shop in the back,” Jack said.

Not being in Barnsdall when the tornado hit might’ve saved Jack and Maria.

“If I’d been here, I’d have been in the middle this because I’ve been through so many tornado warnings,” Jack said. “I would have just been sitting on the couch watching TV.”

He showed FOX23 where he usually sits on the couch, where a big beam was laying.

He said being in Florida definitely saved he and his wife’s lives.

Right across the street from Jack is his neighbor Wayne Hogue, the man everyone’s still looking for.

Jack said he’s known Hogue his whole life.

“He was very Christian man,” Jack said.

“He came over and talked to us last time we were at home,” he said. “He sat and talked to about Jesus. He could quote every bible verse and that does give us satisfaction, knowing he’s with the Lord, if he’s gone.”

For Jack and Maria, it’s hard to think about the plan they had when looking at their home that is now gone.

“It’s hard to look at isn’t it,” Jack said. “We have grandkids here and that was our goal to come home and finish watching them grow up.”

FOX23 asked him what their plan is now.

“We don’t know,” Jack said. “I mean, gotta start over.”

Jack knows Barnsdall is the kind of place you can do that.

“I’ve been here all my life,” he said. “Everybody comes together on stuff like this.”

He said the Barnsdall community makes him proud.

“It’s overwhelming,” he said. “To be honest, it makes you proud, especially this is a little small town.”

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