The Norman Transcript

News Features

May 24, 2013

Family shelter saves 11 lives

MOORE — Ronnie and Sally Horn built their retirement home 15 years ago. It was a vision of comfort set against a wooded background. The yard was well manicured. The picket fence was white. The pond out back was as clear as any in Oklahoma. A large “H” adorned the walkway.

Now their dream home lies in shambles.

Nearly every wall collapsed less than a day after a tornado tore through and killed 24 people.

A few interior walls still framed Sally’s red bedroom, which otherwise was exposed to the elements. A bathroom roof crumbled around a clawfoot tub. Three ornate crosses hung on one of the few remaining walls, dripping with water as the skies opened up a third time Tuesday.

It was then that Sally Horn reflected on the most dangerous day of her life — and a prescient decision made 14 years earlier that would save her own life and those of 10 other people.

“I feel lucky and blessed to be alive,” she said.

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The Horns bought 30 acres in 1998 and built their house for retirement, though they never quite made it that far.

Instead, they continued to work at Control Flow Inc., the company they owned just a hundred yards from the front porch. They raised horses and they lived simply. Friends and a close-knit family visited regularly.

“We have a big family, and this is the main place we come to,” said Sally’s brother-in-law, Gary Garland, as he helped sift through the rubble Tuesday.

The grandkids live a few miles south. The Horns’ oldest son, Hoby, owns and operates Horn Equipment down the street.

Another son, Jeffrey, is a school administrator in Moore. He spent Monday rescuing children from the hard-hit Briarwood Elementary School and the even harder-hit Plaza Towers Elementary, where seven children died.

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