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Oklahoma tornadoes: Keepsakes returned to Moore family

by Juliana Keeping Modified: July 13, 2013 at 7:29 pm •  Published: July 14, 2013

The sisters covered their ears and closed their eyes.

There was a bulldozer nearby; it beeped and banged and scraped the ground of the neighborhood.

Kaley, 6, and twins Zoe and Sophie, 4, scooted closer to mom and dad, Amber and Nathan Kriesel, on Saturday in Moore as crews worked to scrape clean the foundations of neighborhood homes destroyed May 20.

The plot at 601 SW 6 Street is a giant sand box now. Hunks of the concrete foundation jut out of a sandy pile on a corner of the property, the only evidence that this was once this family's home.

The little girls do not like loud noises.

On May 20, the girls heard a noise so horrifying it seemed to be from some other world.

They could not hear their parents shouting prayers. The girls did not make a sound. They linked arms.

“Don't let go of your sisters,” their mother recalled telling them.

Huddled in a bathtub together and wearing bike helmets, the sisters were unable to cover their ears because their arms were linked tight.

Their parents could only lean over the tub and shout prayers at the top of their lungs. The Kriesel parents couldn't hear their own voices.

“We just held on and prayed,” Amber Kriesel said.

The tornado made that terrible noise, and it took their home away.

Then it was over.

The twister left the bathtub, a toilet and the family alone. Everything else was gone.

“We're outside, and we're in my bathroom,” Amber Kriesel recalled thinking.

No, the sisters do not like loud noises these days.

Parents Amber and Nathaniel credit the hand of God from keeping the family on the ground while cars flew over their heads.

The tornado left the family with few material things, and yet it left them with the only things that really matter — their lives and their faith.

It also left letters.

Lost, then found

Rebecca Cooper grew up in Oklahoma City, but her career took her to Washington, D.C.

Now a reporter for ABC 7 News WJLA in the nation's capital, she arrived in Moore after the EF5 tornado struck. She and a cameraman were walking amid the destruction near Telephone Road and SW 6 when she saw a pile of letters and cards.

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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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