Local News

Tornado Victims Look for Miracles In The Midst of Destruction

Posted May 4, 1999

— Some Oklahoma City property owners are getting a look at what is left of their homes after Monday's killer tornados.

They were only being allowed back into their devastated neighborhood for the day Wednesday. It was sealed off again Wednesday night.

The tornado was the strongest to hit Oklahoma in 17 years, and it was the deadliest tornado in the state in five decades.

The people of Oklahoma consider themselves true survivors, and out of the rubble come tales of heroism and courage.

There have been some amazing stories of survival in Moore, Okla. especially when you consider the fact that the tornado touched down outside of Oklahoma City and stayed on the ground through the southern part of the city weaving a path of destruction.

Wednesday, people tried to find miracles in the massive destruction.

"I heard her whimpering," said Aaron Worley.

Worley could here his dog somewhere buried in the rubble that used to be his home.

Abbey, a 1-year-old boxer, disappeared Monday night as the mammoth twister turned a neighborhood of new brick homes into piles of sticks and stones.

"It would be like taking a plastic model and hitting it with a sledge hammer," explained one survivor.

"I saw stuff flying, and I said 'here it comes.' I had everyone in the closet and said 'get on the floor," said survivor James Hartness.

Hartness survived the 40 seconds of destruction that buried his neighbors.

"I ran across the street and dug these people out of the closet. Then I started going around, and I found a dead gentleman," said Hartness.

But a mile away, one searched ended with a miracle. Abbey was found alive and well after being buried two days in a pile of rubble.

"She was underneath the bed, her favorite hiding spot. After I pulled the bed off, she jumped out and started licking me," said Worley.

As mother nature ripped apart his house, Tim Lehnof hid in the bath tub.

"Stuff was flying, hitting me in the face. Then, it just felt like the whole building collapsed on top of me. I waited about 30 or 40 seconds, and then I crawled my way out. It probably took me a minute to get out," said Lehnof.

Under Wednesday's bright sun, Lehnof saw the nightmare was real as his family searched for important pieces of their lives.

Hundreds of families are doing the same thing, but many families were not lucky and had loved ones killed in the storm.

If you would like to help the tornado victims, the most useful donation is money. You can make a donation by calling theAmerican Red Crossat1-800-HELP-NOW.

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