Country star Toby Keith's mother Carolyn and sister Tonni were among those who had to run for cover on Monday (20May13) when a deadly tornado touched down in his hometown of Moore, Oklahoma.
A massive twister ripped through the community on Monday afternoon, leaving behind a wide path of destruction and a death toll of at least 24 people, many of them children as two elementary schools were levelled in the wake of the storm.
Keith, who grew up in the area, just missed the terrible storm as he flew out to Nashville, Tennessee to record new music only hours before tragedy struck - but others weren't so lucky.
On Monday night he told CNN.com, "I left today and I knew when we flew out of there (a storm was brewing). I could see it building back in the Southwest and it was just, man... I grew up in those neighbourhoods that got hit... My sister's house got hit. It's a mile north of my mother's house and the farm where I was raised.
"There's been so many tornadoes come through there, but I don't ever remember one hitting the elementary school right square on the button like this one did. That's devastating."
However, the singer is convinced the damage could have been much worse if not for the talented weather experts, who issued a rare tornado emergency warning to residents minutes before the storm hit: "Oklahoma's really good - they have great meteorologists, great weather centres. They prepare you for this. The (death toll) numbers could be much, much higher. It's devastating to see this count, because it usually isn't this high... but they did the best they could do, I'm sure."
Country star Bryan White's mother was also caught up in the deadly tornado - in a series of posts on Twitter.com, he wrote, "My Mom is in the closet again. F5 (grade-five tornado) on the ground in Sw (Southwest) Okc (Oklahoma City)...Thx every1 4 your prayers."