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Peppers Ranch foster care community is recovering a year after tornado

A tornado ripped through Peppers Ranch last May 24, destroying buildings and killing horses. The ranch is recovering one year later.

BY DIANA BALDWIN Published: May 26, 2012
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/articleid/3677910/1/pictures/1727652">Photo - Sarah Meachan, 9, holds a horse pillow she saved from the tornado that hit Peppers Ranch a year ago Thursday. Three horses were killed, and the barn destroyed. PHOTOS BY DAVID MCDANIEL, THE OKLAHOMAN
Sarah Meachan, 9, holds a horse pillow she saved from the tornado that hit Peppers Ranch a year ago Thursday. Three horses were killed, and the barn destroyed. PHOTOS BY DAVID MCDANIEL, THE OKLAHOMAN

The 9,000-square-foot learning center, only six months old when the tornado destroyed it, is rebuilt.

New books have replaced the soaked and mold-damaged ones. The mechanical barn has been reconstructed, and two of the homes that were damaged while under construction are finished.

Residents and volunteers have removed 125 damaged trees. A piece of siding from the damaged mechanical barn remains embedded in a sycamore tree that survived.

Hal French, a board member, said he was at his home in Edmond when he got the call.

“The trim carpenter called and said you have got to get out here. It is bad,” French said. “I kept telling myself the only thing that mattered was that the kids and parents were safe.”

Parents Tonya and Travis Ratliff and their six children were out of town when the tornado hit. They had to live with the aftermath and clean up while there was no electricity.

“The path of damage was unbelievable,” said Tonya Ratliff, the program director.

Emotional scars remain for the children.

“They are scared anytime there is a storm,” Jill Meachan said. “They will sleep on the floor. We talk about it.”

When the wind blows, Ratliff said, her 5-year-old grabs his bicycle helmet and runs for the pantry where the safe room is located.

“This is not the children’s first loss,” Ratliff said. “They already had to be pulled from their homes where it wasn’t a healthy situation. That was a tragic loss for them. And, it happened again.”


Read the rest of the story on Oklahoman.com
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HOW TO HELP

Homebuilding campaign

A $1 million campaign is under way to build additional homes at Peppers Ranch. There now are seven homes where 40 children and 14 adults live.

To donate

•Online: Go to www.peppersranch.com.

•Mail: Peppers Ranch Inc., P.O. Box 3814, Edmond, OK 73083.

•To report abuse or neglect: Call 1 (800) 522-3511.

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