MOORE — When a car pulls up and rolls its windows down, Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Gabe Leach never knows whether its driver is in good spirits or angry.
Either way, he understands.
“We have people come through that are teary-eyed — they haven't been to their house yet and they're pretty anxious to see what they've lost,” he said. “We also have some that are pretty frustrated.”
At one point, nearly every intersection in town seemed to be staffed with troopers or the National Guard, men and women checking IDs one at a time before letting anyone through to the neighborhoods devastated by Monday's tornado.
By Thursday, the checkpoints had tapered off to a one-square-mile radius. By Friday, they were gone.
“Thank you guys, we appreciate it,” said the driver of one car after Leach scanned his ID and let him through.
Behind the trooper, desperate residents pored through stacks of shoes and piles of clothing looking for temporary replacements for the stuff they lost during the storm.
Mark Wood and his wife, Robin, came up from Lawton with about 25 cases of water and a generator — left over from an ice storm several years back — to set up this relief stand. Now, it's a Wi-Fi hot spot and a roadside thrift shop.
Across the street, Derek Johnson flipped burgers on a grill he brought down from Riverton, Kan.
Wearing a shirt that commemorates a close friend who died in the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo., Johnson said he didn't think twice about taking on the role of relief chef.
He took a break to wipe the sweat from his brow and eyed the line of cars that stretched down the block and out of sight.
“I don't know if you call it organized chaos or what — there's just a lot going on and everybody's dealing with it the best way they know how,” he said.
ZEKE CAMPFIELD, STAFF WRITER
When emotions flow, dogs can help
NORMAN — A dog's bark rang over the din of children playing in the lobby of the University of Oklahoma's Walker Center Thursday.
Jo Humphrey looked at Journey, a 1-year-old standard poodle, shook her head and smiled.
“If he's excited, the volume goes up,” she said.
Humphrey is the owner of Panhandle Area Community Therapies, a therapy dog service in Perryton, Texas.
Humphrey, her husband, Robert, and dog handler Diana McGarr were at OU Thursday afternoon with Journey and another dog, Gracie.
Journey and Gracie worked with children and adults who are staying in emergency housing at OU while they're displaced because of Monday's tornado.
The dogs offer comfort to people who are stressed or in pain, Humphrey said. She hopes to take the dogs to shelters and hospitals around the area to help comfort those who were affected by the tornado, she said.
SILAS ALLEN, STAFF WRITER
‘They're trying to smile'
MOORE — The sun beats down on the three Daniel brothers as they clean up the wreckage of their parents' home.
They've already found most of the valuables — jewelry and guns — and now they are trying to see what else can be salvaged before the rubble is taken away.
Michael is standing on a rain-soaked quilt. His brother, Jeff, tells him to move so he can pick it up.
“I'll bring this back to Mom,” he tells his brother.
Their parents, Forrest and Barbara Daniel, are not there. Michael, 52, said the gravity of what happened began to wear on his mother on Thursday.
Barbara wasn't at home when the tornado hit, and Forrest rode it out sitting next to the refrigerator because their house had no shelter.
“He told me he never thought he would die before that day,” Michael said.
The couple probably won't ever go back to where their home once stood, he said.
But before they left, Michael snapped a cellphone photo of his parents, standing arm in arm in front of the wreckage of the house they shared for 30 years.
Outpatient ROBOTIC HYSTERECTOMY. Trust an experienced Robotic Surgeon.