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Moore, Oklahoma, Begins to Recover from Deadly Tornado

Moore, Oklahoma, Begins to Recover From Deadly Tornadoi
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May 22, 2013 6:59 PM
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. But, as VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Moore, the full impact of the disaster may take much more time to assess.
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Greg Flakus
— 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.

  • President Barack Obama talks with Julie Lewis, her husband Scott Lewis, and their son Zack, a third-grader at the destroyed Plaza Towers Elementary School seen in the background, Moore, Oklahoma, May 26, 2013.
  • Rae Kittrell holds her son Rylan, who turned one-year-old two days after the tornado, a block away from her house in Moore, Oklahoma, May 22, 2013.
  • Chad Allcox, left, helps his friend Kevin McElvany, right, the home owner, clear debris away from his destroyed home from Monday's tornado, Moore, Oklahoma, May 22, 2013.
  • Oklahoma City Thunder NBA basketball player Kevin Durant walks past tornado-damaged homes in a neighborhood in Moore, Oklahoma, May 22, 2013.
  • Jordan Humphrey, a 6th grader at tornado-damaged Briarwood elementary school, shows his mother Mary and his brother Jacob his soggy yearbook after his backpack was retrieved for him by a firefighter in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, May 22, 2013.
  • A sign reads "God Bless Moore" as workers make repairs to the Warren theater in Moore, Oklahoma, which was left devastated by a tornado, May 22, 2013.
  • A soggy American flag hangs in a broken window at Wayne Osmus' home in Moore, Oklahoma. Osmus' family hid in a closet Monday after winds kept them from taking refuge in the storm shelter.
  • Charles Taber opens the two-week old storm shelter that saved his life in the May 20 tornado in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, May 22, 2013.
  • Farmers Insurance worker, Paul Gaipo, looks through tornado-damaged cars at a destroyed strip mall, May 22, 2013, in Moore, Oklahoma.
  • A search-and-rescue team from Tennessee searches a field, May 22, 2013, in Moore, Oklahoma.
  • Susan Kates salvages items from a friend's tornado-ravaged home, May 22, 2013, in Moore, Oklahoma.
  • Claudia Clark clears tornado debris from a cemetery, May 22, 2013, in Moore, Oklahoma.

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.

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