MOORE — Megan Billingsley Futrell sought refuge in a corner store where she thought she and her newborn son would be safe from Monday's tornado.
A relative on Tuesday remembered the 29-year-old Moore woman as a doting mother with a warm smile.
“She was my sister I never had,” said Amy Pulliam, a cousin who fought back tears while paying respects from outside a destroyed 7-Eleven near SW 4 and Telephone Road.
Futrell and her 3-month-old son, Case, died Monday after the roof collapsed on the store where they were riding out the storm in a walk-in cooler.
Just minutes before, she'd retrieved her son from a baby sitter a few blocks away. She parked and ran inside the store when it was clear the two could not outrun the tornado.
On Tuesday, all that remained of the 7-Eleven — an anchor in an established neighborhood of working-class families, many with young children — was a concrete pad, scattered merchandise and remnants of plastic shelving.
“It's hard, it's hard, it's hard. But there's nothing you can do now,” Pulliam said.
A mother of two, Futrell's devotion to her family is evident on her Facebook page, where the only public photos are those of her children. On Pinterest, she celebrates the science projects of her oldest son, Kanon, and lists dozens of her favorite family recipes.
She was an active member of the Little League association where Kanon, 8, plays baseball.
Her husband, Cody, told her to seek shelter inside the store, Pulliam said. Tuesday, he was overcome with grief.
“As soon as the tornado went over he just took off running,” she said. “When he made it as far as Little River Park he saw there was nothing.”
Futrell's purse, spotted by family members at the scene, seemed to confirm their worst fears.
Not their first tragedy
It's not the first tragedy the family has faced, said Pulliam's mother, who is Futrell's Aunt Tracy.
Futrell's father died in a motorcycle wreck when she was just two years old, Tracy Pulliam said.
“And we've seen bad tornadoes before,” she said. “But this time it's babies and schools and families. It's just different.”
As people in the adjacent King's Manor neighborhood scoured the rubble for anything they could salvage from their own homes, many said they were devastated to hear about the tragedy at 7-Eleven.
One couple laid a bouquet of yellow roses at the store.
“We come down here almost every day on our bikes just to get snacks or Icees for our girls,” said Alicia Burke. “Our hearts go out to these people.”
A field where his children used to play baseball sits between the store and the backyard of David Fries, who said he shopped there nearly every day.
Fries spent Tuesday digging through concrete and brick along SW 6th street, one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in the city.
Fries said he and his wife usually ride out storms in a cushion-lined closet in the middle of the house. This time, he said, his wife asked him to take her away from the house.
Returning home less than 20 minutes later, they found nothing remained — no bed, no motorcycle, no guitars. Their Rottweiler, Spit, lay dead a dozen yards away in the field.
“I don't know how you even describe it,” Fries said. “The most evil, awesome force of nature that you ever seen — just this beast coming down the road.”