Editor's note: While covering the aftermath of the tornado that struck Moore on Monday, Oklahoman staff writer Nolan Clay discovered his own house at 324 Cedar Lane had been destroyed. No one was home at the time.
MOORE - Phillip was crying. "Bye bye , birdie," the 5-year-old said softly while clutching a teddy bear. His dad hugged him tighter.
He'd lost his pet bird, a pet hamster, his favorite swing set, his new bike and his home. His pet dog survived. Phillip's family had fled to a friend's shelter. He was my next-door neighbor.
We stood before the ruins of our homes and I asked his dad, a minister, "Why did God do this?"
"I don't believe God does this," the Rev. Bob Younts said. "It's just one of those freaky occurences that happens."
Across Cedar Lane, rescuers worked to free three other neighbors from the debris.
The walls "began to move and the roof collapsed," said Lee McKinnis as he limped from his home. "I'm still shaken."
The tornado hit about 7:30 p.m., smashing homes, toppling cars, ripping away roofs and downing power lines.
"Anybody home?" rescuers cried, moving up and down Cedar Lane and Bellaire Drive in north Moore. One rescuer, tow-truck driver Jason Hight, said, "Moore didn't need this. We've just recovered from the last one."
He hurried two houses down to help about 30 men toss aside the debris where an elderly woman once lived alone. "Deloris! Deloris!" they called, looking under a fallen chimney and beneath a crumpled pickup.
Later he learned Deloris had been away.
Fred Jones, 73, watched the rescue efforts from a folding chair in his driveway outside the wreckage of his home. "We just got in the hallway," Jones said. "I guess that's what saved us. We were real lucky."
"It sounded like a freight train. Glass was flying around."
His wife, Llewellyn, 71, said, "The Lord was watching out for us. The Lord's taken care of us this many years, he's still taking care of us."
Bob Price, 58, watched the storm from the roof of his house. "It came right through here. It was about a quarter of a mile wide. It was the biggest tornado I've ever seen in my life. Your neighborhood got the brunt of it."
For Tom Chase, 77, it was his third tornado. "It was one big wham and it was gone. We could feel the vibration. It was an awesome thing."
"It's bad," he said of his home. "But we'll build that back. You can't build people back."
Spared was the First Baptist Church in Moore, a block away. Neighbors gathered there and consoled each other in the candlelight.