Russell-Bartlett, a registered nurse, was at work when the storm touched down. She left to retrieve her son from a daycare that was in the path of the storm. Russell-Bartlett and her husband walked through two miles of devastation toward their old neighborhood. Authorities tried to stop them, but she had to find her son.
“I just kept walking.”
“It took us 3 1/2 hours to find out if he was alive,” she said. Once she had learned that he was OK and her older daughter was too, she worked her way toward her home.
“The closer we got to our house the worse the houses got,” Russell-Bartlett said.
Standing in her neighborhood was disorienting.
“I was lost in my own neighborhood,” she said. In the rubble she recognized the occasional familiar item.
“The TV was crunched and bent in half,” she said. “It was like the storm had put our entire house in a blender.”
She remembered looking around seeing neighbors standing in front of the ruins of their homes.
“Everyone was in shock,” Russell-Bartlett recalled.
Some neighbors were absent from the scene.
“Are they in there? I was scared to find out,” she remembered thinking.
Russell-Bartlett said her family will soon move into a comfortable, slightly bigger house and in 40 years from now the memories and struggle will just be an adventurous story within the family history.
But even with a positive outlook, the storm has left its mark on somebody who lived all her life with tornado warnings and the infamous Oklahoma storm season.
“I want a storm shelter,” she said.
Like Russell-Bartlett, those who are rebuilding in the city rebuild with safety in mind. According to the Moore community development department, the number of storm shelter permits issued since the tornado is 1,113. In 2012, the city issued only 481.