Oklahoma Tornado: Engaged Couple's Love, Wedding Survive

May 20 tornado wrecked couple's home, but not the wedding essentials.

May 29, 2013, 1:23 PM

May 29, 2013— -- As devastating as the tornado's impact was to their Moore, Okla., home last week, Mady Gosh and fiancé Jason Velasquez have managed to find hope in the improbable sequence of events that saved their wedding-day essentials.

Gosh had a full plate in the months leading up to the tornado that would sweep through their neighborhood. The recently engaged woman had just begun the process of moving into her fiancé's home on Little River Circle, and she was making last-minute plans for her June 12 California wedding.

"My entire focus for the past six months was wedding planning: my bridal shower, bachelorette party, all of it," Gosh, 29, said. "And I feel like our lives just kind of halted."

READ MORE: Oklahoma Tornado -- Before and After Images

The morning of May 20, Gosh wasn't feeling well and left work early. She decided to spend the remainder of the day at home with their Rottweiler, Lindy, watching TV and planning for her wedding that was three weeks away. That's when she got a call from Velasquez, who was at work in the north side of town, warning her about the predicted tornado reports and urging her to leave and drive to his brother's house.

After Velasquez's third call, Gosh, agreed. She threw on a pair of flip-flops because, after all, or so she thought, she would be back in a few minutes, put Lindy in the garage, instead of his usual dining-room spot, and headed out to her soon-to-be brother-in-law's home.

Fifteen minutes later, the tornado struck Moore. "We watched the tornado from a shelter just pass right on by and just destroy everything ... hoping that it hasn't destroyed our house," Gosh said.

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Velasquez drove to his neighborhood to meet his fiancée, but he had to run half a mile through the wrecked town to get to his house.

"I was just freaking out, not knowing if the house is still standing or if the dog is alive," he said.

When they got there, they found the house barely standing.

"I've never seen anything like it," Gosh recalled, looking at their surrounding town. "It felt like a war zone."

Their garage was a mess, but not destroyed.

"The dog was OK. That was huge for me," Gosh said. "It was mind-blowing. It still is, when we drive down there. It's amazing how one area could be completely normal and fine and untouched, and then [nearby] there's no houses. It's just complete destruction across the street."

In addition to the garage, Gosh's craft room at the front of the house remained untouched. Projects she had been working on for the wedding since January were all saved.

"It's just so neat because we look at those projects as something important to us, just everything having to do with that day … the things we really cared about a lot either weren't [in the house] or were saved. It was incredible."

Gosh would often hang her wedding ring on a little hook Velasquez installed in the kitchen, especially when she would work on crafts. A week prior, a diamond happened to fall out.

"[My ring] was at the jewelers, which was amazing because I would have not remembered to put it back on, I thought I'd be back in a second," she said.

Earlier that week, Gosh took her wedding dress to the dry cleaners on the north side of town rather than the one in Moore. As luck would have it, Gosh's dress was at the dry cleaners when the tornado hit, and not in her closet where it had been hanging for months.

"It's crazy that [the dress] wasn't there, because even if it had survived, with the smell in the house, I can't even imagine it being OK again."

Although she admitted that taking the dress there was inconvenient and out of the way, she said, "I don't know why, I just felt like that's where I'm supposed to take it."

Couple 'Thankful,' 'Blessed' Ahead of Upcoming Wedding

Unexpectedly, Velasquez's ring, tucked away in its case, was found in the same spot he left it, and hadn't moved an inch on his dresser. His suit, although not at the dry cleaners, was covered in a plastic bag hanging in the closet, and was also saved.

"The suit was OK. It was in the master bathroom, which got heavy damage. But it was in a plastic bag and it still looks good," Velasquez said.

And just a few feet away, in what appeared to defy the force of nature, a framed picture of the engaged couple remained standing on their bathroom sink.

With only two weeks remaining until their wedding day, discovering these small glimpses of hope, despite the life-altering tragedy, have encouraged Gosh and Velasquez to move forward with their wedding plans at Disneyland.

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"It's our place, and we thought what better place than our favorite place to get married? So I think in light of everything that's happened this week, we're thankful that we picked somewhere that we really enjoy so much," Gosh said.

"It's a cool place to do a wedding. They coordinate everything for you. And then when we return in June we have a reception here in the city, so I think that's going to be emotional."

That following Sunday, Gosh and Velasquez headed to the American Red Cross's multiagency resource center (MARC) set up at West Moore High School in Moore, Okla., where dozens of agencies exist under one roof to help assist victims.

Jecoliah Ellis, a Red Cross spokeswoman, recalled meeting Velasquez and Gosh at the MARC.

"Once I started talking to them, it was very clear from the beginning of our conversation that they were an inspiring couple," Ellis said. "Although they had lost everything, they still had a lot of hope."

She added, "When disaster strikes, one of the roles of the American Red Cross is to get on the ground immediately and provide comfort, shelter, and food to those affected. And part of the Red Cross mission is to also provide hope, and that's why Jason and Mady's story stood out to me. Because they are full of hope."

Velasquez said, "We've learned you're not alone. That's the one thing that I've taken out of this. That sometimes you feel alone and you're not alone."

Gosh said, "It's been a very eye-opening and humbling experience. I mean, we have so much to be thankful for. We've been so blessed to have our church, community and friends stand beside us, and just be there [for us].

"We're super happy to have each other. Especially right now, that's been the best part."

Velasquez said that overcoming this tragedy alongside his fiancée has forever changed their relationship.

"As time goes on," he said, "we'll look at May 20 as the day we became stronger, together."

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