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Family reunites at Moore church, prepares to search for missing relatives

A Moore family that survived the tornadoes of May 3, 1999, and May 8, 2003, reunited at First Baptist Church of Moore after experiencing tornadic activity near their homes Monday.
by Carla Hinton Modified: May 21, 2013 at 12:11 am •  Published: May 21, 2013

— The hugs and the tears conveyed a message all too familiar for the Lambert family Monday.

Cecilia Lambert, with tears in her eyes, hopped out of her husband's pickup and rushed to hug her son, Joseph Lambert, as the family reunited in the parking lot of First Baptist Church of Moore.

Lambert family members said they live in several Moore housing additions and experienced the tornado outbreak of May 3, 1999, and another on May 8, 2003.

Cecilia Lambert said she couldn't believe their city had been struck yet a third time by a deadly tornado, wreaking havoc through the city.

“I think I'm ready to move,” she said.

Joseph Lambert, 23, said he left his Oklahoma City job when he found out the tornado was headed for the Moore area. He said he gathered his wife, Virginia, and their three children and placed them in the cellar at their home.

He said he picked up his niece at a nearby middle school to make sure she was with family. He said he then went up and down his street to round up any neighbors that needed to ride out the storm underground.

“I banged on as many doors as I could,” he said.

Joseph Lambert said his next-door neighbor and several neighborhood youths joined his family in their cellar as the storm made its way through Moore.

Cecilia Lambert said she and her husband, James, knocked on their neighbors' cellar door several times, and when it didn't open, the two decided to get back in their truck and drive away from the storm.

She said the wind was howling and it was hailing, so she thinks her neighbors couldn't hear their attempts to get in.

She said she and her husband rode away from the storm and worried about her son and his family still in Moore. She said she was relieved when they were able to get cellphone reception and learned their son wanted to meet up with them at the parking lot of First Baptist, 301 NE 27.

Family members said they received property damage during the first two tornadoes. Cecilia Lambert said her home in the Buttonwood housing addition has had three roofs in the past 20 years.

‘Family means everything'

Joseph Lambert said he and his father were going to join the search-and-rescue effort to look for his sister and brother-in-law, who lived in one of the neighborhoods affected by the tornado.

He said he was optimistic that they would be found OK, but with cellphone reception almost nonexistent in the affected areas, they wanted to go look for their family members themselves.

James Lambert put the family's ordeal in perspective.

“Family means everything,” he said.

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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