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Oklahoma tornadoes: Area groups offer help for tornado survivors

The American Red Cross and local churches are operating shelters in Oklahoma to help survivors of recent tornadoes.
BY JACLYN COSGROVE jcosgrove@opubco.com Published: May 21, 2013
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Daisy and Lawrence Dickens remember the near misses.

There was the tornado that went around their house but didn't do anything.

Then there was the one that destroyed a manufactured-home park behind their home. That one took off the shingles from their house.

“This time, it really got us,” Daisy Dickens said.

The Dickens sat at the American Red Cross shelter at St. Andrew's United Methodist Church on Tuesday, recounting the EF5 tornado that destroyed their home Monday afternoon.

The Red Cross has four shelters open in Oklahoma for tornado survivors. Area churches also have open shelters in the Moore area, which were far from full Tuesday.

The Dickens were among a handful of people who had sought help at St. Andrew's. They have lived in Moore since 1959. They've been married 62 years. And they still like each other. “At times,” Daisy Dickens said, laughing.

Their house, two blocks from Plaza Towers Elementary School, is heavily damaged. But they consider themselves fortunate, for things like their clothes and family photographs were left largely untouched by the storm.

Throughout the Dickens' home, there are random things the tornado left untouched.

“Believe it or not, there are china cabinets that are in there, and everything is just fine,” Daisy Dickens said.

Local churches have offered to serve as shelters and donation drop-off locations as well.

Volunteers at Graceway Baptist Church at 1100 SW 104 in Oklahoma City were working Tuesday to collect bottled water, batteries, heavy work gloves, hand sanitizer, ready-to-eat nonperishable meals, sports drinks and flashlights.

Graceway church will donate what they collect to the relief effort.

Greg Keenen, Graceway pastor, said not many people had come by the church seeking shelter. He said people with home insurance are likely staying in hotels and don't need to stay overnight at the church.

During the relief effort after the May 3, 1999, tornado, people from across the country came to the church to help. And just like in 1999, Graceway will keep the doors open as long as it needs to.


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