The Norman Transcript

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May 23, 2013

Disoriented and displaced residents make their way back to devastated homes

NORMAN — Sparks of joy lit up grief-stricken eyes from time to time on Wednesday after Moore residents were allowed back into their neighborhoods for the first time after Monday’s EF-5 tornado devastated much of the city.

For Rachel Hernadez, who lives near SE 4th Street and Bryant Avenue, some of that joy was given back to her after a Cleveland County work crew was able to dig a dresser holding family photos out from underneath the rubble that was once her home.

“I had the last picture of my grandma from when she was 17. I just found it last year,” Hernadez said. “I had an entire collection of family photos in that dresser.”

She also was able to salvage a German antique pot which put a smile on her face as well.

“I was pulling out stuff that didn’t even belong to me earlier,” she said.

Some residents didn’t have to wait until Wednesday to see the catastrophic scene the tornado left their neighborhood in.

Matt Claxton and his wife, Heather, watched the storm develop on television and outside until they saw on a social media site the storm was behind the Moore Warren Theater. They ran to a shelter minutes before the deadly twister wiped out their neighborhood.

“We grabbed what we could and ran to a shelter. When we walked out it looked like a war zone was here,” Claxton said. “We were just feeling so useless.”

Then they saw their house. He said at that point they were just thankful to be alive.

“It’s just stuff. We’re going to try to salvage what we can though,” he said.

As Claxton stood in his driveway on Wednesday looking around at all of the destroyed homes, which was a view that seemed to stretch for miles, he said it was tough.

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