Devastation thrashed through Oklahoma Saturday morning in the form of a series of horrifying and rare August tornadoes. Bouncing down the streets and destroying houses like they were nothing at all, the tornadoes did approximately $8.5 million in damage.
Stringtown resident Josiah Harnekey shared his account of the tornado that swept through his neighborhood, destroying his house.
“I got all kids down to the cellar right quick, but then I realized that I didn’t have my twine ball with me.”
Witnesses say that at this point he slammed the cellar door and allegedly ran up the stairs—only tripping twice—to rescue his twine ball.
“It was like there was a supernatural force was carrying him. I’ve never seen a man with such a purpose in all my life.” said Katherine Harnekey, Josiah’s wife.
He mustered up all his strength and courage and ran up the cellar stairs and into his house. He saw his prized twine ball sitting there, and was mesmerized by its majesty. He ran toward it, but just as he was about to get there, the west side of his house was furiously ripped away from the rest of the structure.
“I would say, he was possessed by something stronger than the tornado,” said Mrs. Harnekey, when asked her thoughts on how he escaped certain beating or even death at the hands of the heartless tornado.
“I saw my twine ball start to scoot across the floor and toward the black funnel. I knew then what I had to do,” said Harnekey.
He dashed into action. Jumping over the table and landing on the sofa, he grabbed the arm of the chair that had been bolted down just days before because “the dumb thing kept on falling over.” As his treasured ball of twine began to slide toward the black funnel, spiraling slowly upward, the end came loose and whapped him right across the cheek.
This was no longer just about getting the twine ball for Josiah Harnekey. No, it was now about showing the tornado he was not going to take this kind of abuse any longer.
The second revolution of the twine barely missed his head, coming close enough for him to grab it. “It stung real bad,” said Harnekey, describing the moment the twine hit his hand. But he was determined not to let go.
He held fast to the twine for eight long minutes, until the storm fully passed. As his family cautiously made their way out of the cellar, Harnekey rose to his feet and held up his now-unraveled twine. As a tear of joy rolled slowly down his cheek, he began the long process of forming it back into a ball.
Though his house was thrashed, and their collection of eight hundred porcelain kittens was broken, Harnekey still had his ball of twine. Josiah Harnekey’s harrowing tale is not just about a man and his twine ball, but courage, love, and pain.