MOORE, OKLAHOMA —
The tiny city of Moore, Oklahoma, is starting the difficult task of recovery following the powerful tornado that swept through the Oklahoma City suburb Monday. State officials say at least 24 people died in Moore and nearby areas and many more were injured. The full impact of the disaster may take much more time to assess.
The tornado cut a wide path of destruction through Moore, taking away in an instant the comfortable lives people had built here.
But many survivors are just happy to be alive.
"I feel lucky; I feel like a million bucks right now," said a local resident.
Another person left homeless, but alive, is Alfredo Corrales, who crowded into a small underground shelter with his family and a neighbor.
"Me and the neighbor were just holding on to the hatch, just to keep the door secure, and that wind was blowing over and the wind was just sucking up on the door. And when it was doing that the rain was just shooting down into the cellar," he said.
Among those who have temporarily moved to the nearby city of Norman is Michelle Maddin, who was overjoyed to find all of her children unharmed after the twister devastated most of their neighborhood.
"I was relieved, but I kind of felt guilty that my kids were okay and there are others that aren't okay and there is just devastation everywhere," she said.
She and her family now watch any darkening of the sky with anxiety.
In the wreckage of what used to be the beauty salon she helped run, Carmen Hussey helps clean up.
"They are going to rebuild the shop, rebuild the building, but in the meantime, those of us who are self-employed need somewhere to work," she said.
Utility companies have brought in crews to help restore the town's electrical service.
And volunteers, including local college students, are helping to remove debris from homes and yards near the disaster zone.
Moore city official, Deirde Ebrey, says this kind of tragedy unites people.
"In a community like this, I would say that we were 100 percent affected, so those of us who live nowhere near where these things happened are completely affected," she said.
Around 90 percent of homes here in Moore were not touched by the storm. But having had three major tornadoes strike here in the past 14 years, people know that it could be their home the next time.