Oklahoma tornadoes: Blanchard woman feared she might be ‘buried alive' when tornado hit

For the first time ever, Mary Ritter, 79, took shelter in her storm cellar when a massive tornado tore through the Blanchard area. When the cellar door flew off, debris poured in on top of her and she thought she might be buried alive.
BY JANE GLENN CANNON jcannon@opubco.com Published: May 27, 2011
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Lonnie Bewley, a volunteer firefighter, was away from his rural residence helping others. He knew his wife Jennifer and their three children were safe at a downtown shelter.

“I sure didn't think about my place. It didn't occur to me anything would happen to it.

Neighbors called to tell the couple their house was gone.

“I had a deer head in the freezer I was keeping for a buddy. The freezer is still here, but the deer head is gone. Someone's going to be surprised when that turns up on their lawn,” he said.

Neighbors Todd and Sandy Miller stood in their yard and watched the tornado approach.

“When it became obvious it wasn't going to veer off in another direction, we put the kids in the truck and left,” Miller said.

They returned to devastation, a house in ruins, mangled belongings, twisted trees and shrubs buried in insulation.

Megan Rowland Kelley, of Newcastle, got home from work early, gathered her two children and a few belongings and headed for the storm cellar.

“It started to hail, then it got really quiet, so quiet you could hear a cricket. Then all the air just got sucked out of the cellar and it started screaming like a freight train. When it passed and we came out, all I could say was, ‘wow.' Pretty much everything was gone,” Kelley said.

James and Joy Clay came home to find their $300,000 house in Newcastle's Richland Park Addition demolished.

“It was a nice house. I sure loved it, but it's just stuff. We can rebuild. It's my yard I'm the most upset about,” Joy Clay said.

Giant trees that graced the property lay downed and twisted. Flower gardens, a children's playhouse and gazebo were gone.

“We'd sit in the swing out back and watch the purple martins. After the storm they were flying all around looking for their homes. It broke my heart,” she said.


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