A TERRIFIED student is lucky to be alive after being forced to shelter just yards from the path of the Oklahoma tornado.
Nicole Wilson took refuge in a DIY store as the mile-wide twister obliterated everything in its path with winds of up to 200mph.
The 22-year-old, from Corstorphine, who is studying in America, was sheltering just a quarter of a mile from Plaza Towers Elementary school, where several children died when winds of up to 200mph reduced it to rubble.
She texted mum Susan as she anxiously waited for the storm to pass before finally stepping out to scenes of devastation with collapsed buildings and uprooted trees.
“She said she was shaky and frightened. They didn’t know what to do or where to go,” said Susan.
“She was with a girl from Columbia and they were taking a friend to the airport but they were actually driving right into it [the tornado].
“Thankfully they stopped and took shelter in a DIY shop.
“The noise was so loud, she said it was horrific. She’s experienced tornadoes there before but said this was something else. Nicole said she doesn’t know how she and her friends survived.”.
The former Craigmount High pupil stayed in the windowless room of the shop for 40 minutes with no power.
It meant Nicole, and the people she was waiting with, were left listening to what was going on outside until they were able to decide if the coast was clear.
Nicole, who is two years into a swimming scholarship at Oklahoma Baptist University, later joined her friends driving to the airport, and passed flattened neighbourhoods.
“They drove through some of it,” said Susan. “There were semi-detached homes and artic lorries flung about. She said it was absolutely horrendous.
“I think it’s the realisation of how lucky she has been when she was so close. I was very relieved to hear she was OK. I have watched the news all day but the more you see, the more upsetting it is.”
Nicole’s brother, Connor, 20, narrowly avoided the disaster having returned to Edinburgh the day before it struck.
Dad Brian, 61, a retired police officer, said Nicole, who hopes to qualify for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, would not be put off living there
He said: “It has been a traumatic experience, but she loves living there.”