For Oklahoma tornado survivors, shock follows storm
The powerful tornado that swept through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on Monday left 24 dead. As survivors survey the wreckage, they contemplate their luck, faith and building construction. The community has seen four tornados since 1998.
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A large wooden cross that had been hanging on an upstairs wall was found on top of them, she said.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Facing the devastation of the Oklahoma tornadoes
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"If you weren't a religious person before, you are now," Williams said. "No word can describe it but a miracle."
Jessica Parmenter, 26, and her three small dogs were at home and directly in the tornado's path. Neighbors rushed to a nearby storm shelter but she did not make it in time and took refuge in a closet. Afterward, a neighbor found Parmenter inside with her dogs. The rest of her home was gone.
"The only thing standing was the closet," said Parmenter's mother-in-law, Lori Blake. "There is a hole in the closet. It kept trying to suck her out and she kept holding on."
Some ascribed the relatively few deaths to "storm safe" shelters, but only 2.5 percent of homes in Oklahoma County were so equipped, officials said.
Moore, which has seen four tornadoes since 1998, had experienced the fury of the strongest category of tornado previously when an EF5 twister devastated the region on May 3, 1999, killing more than 40 people.
The National Weather Service had been issuing alerts for days ahead of the latest storm.
"As much as any place on earth, folks who live in Moore know what severe weather alerts mean," said Bill Bunting, chief of operations for the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
Still, the largely conservative state so far has resisted government imposing requirements that new homes or schools come equipped with storm shelters.
Kraig Boozier, 47, took to his own small shelter in Oklahoma City and watched in shock as a fan in the wall was ripped out.
"I looked up and saw the tornado above me," he said.
In Oklahoma City, Jackie Raper, 73, and her daughter, sought shelter in the bathtub.
"The house fell on top of her," said Caylin Burgett, 16, who says Raper is like a grandmother to her. Raper suffered a broke arm and leg as well as bruised lungs, Burgett said.
(Additional reporting by Alice Mannette, Lindsay Morris, Nick Carey, Brendan O'Brien, Greg McCune, Jane Sutton and Susan Heavey; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Grant McCool, Jim Loney and Cynthia Osterman)
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