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March 8, 2014

No place like home

NORMAN — On the afternoon of May 20, 2013, Moore resident Jennifer Walker drove what felt like the longest miles of her life.

Walker works at Norman Regional Hospital on Porter Avenue. It’s normally a short drive home, about eight miles mostly north on Porter then about a mile west along 4th Street in Moore to her neighborhood adjacent to Veteran’s Park.

That day she returned home to find that home wasn’t there anymore. A large portion of her house had been reduced to rubble and slab by the EF-5 tornado that also whisked away about 90 percent of her and her children’s belongings.

Nearly 10 months later, the single mother of two took possession of her newly built home in that same neighborhood on Friday.

“I feel very relieved to be back over here,” she said. “It seems like it took forever.”

Walker is grateful that her insurance took good care of them, and she was able to rebuild the home from scratch. In the interim, the family rented a home in Moore. That house was going on the market, but the owner allowed Walker to rent it while her new home was being built.

There were so many generous people and groups along the road to recovery, Walker said. Now, there is just moving the furniture into their new digs and

getting settled.

When the tornado hit on May 20, Walker was at work at Norman Regional where she is the lead supervisor of the Imaging Department. The hospital was already treating victims from the May 19 tornadoes which hit in east Norman and Shawnee among other communities, so there was a heightened awareness of just how destructive an Oklahoma twister can be.

Initial tornado warnings included Norman which put the hospital into a Code Black and locked them down. No one could leave during the Code Black.

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