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Southeast Oklahoma City cleans up after tornado

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry tours damaged southeast Oklahoma City while residents recount what happened when a tornado plowed through their neighborhood.

BY MICHAEL BAKER Modified: May 12, 2010 at 12:24 am •  Published: May 12, 2010

Within moments of a tornado whipping through and destroying most of the homes on the corner of Valley Creek Drive and SE 75, Steven Blair exited his laundry room and sprinted next door to check on his neighbor.

Most of the homes on this street corner in Deerfield Estates just west of Choctaw Road and south of Interstate 40 were destroyed.

Among the homes destroyed was that of Blair’s neighbor.

"There was an issue where they could have been trapped,” Blair said. "I smelled natural gas.”

Blair’s neighbors — Air Force Sgt. Scott Thiels, his wife, Lisa, their twin 11-year-old boys and the dog — rode out the tornado in their bathroom.

"We all laid down in the bathtub and after about 10 seconds the house exploded,” Scott Thiels, 35, said.

Thiels emerged from his bathroom and was a bit stunned to see daylight and his neighbor.

"It’s a little hard to explain,” he said of the sensation.

"Today (Tuesday), I’m really not upset,” he said as he looked over the debris that was once home. "Everything that was in that house and breathing is still breathing.”

Tornado’s path
The tornado crashed through about 5:40 p.m., leaving more than a dozen homes damaged and at least six destroyed. Some residents in Deerfield Estates — a relatively new neighborhood filled with several young families — watched the twister run over homes in Deerfield West before jumping a creek and heading for their houses.

Another neighbor, David Reid, said he watched the tornado as it came over a hill to the west.

"We saw it coming and then it looked like it had dissipated, so we were thinking we were OK, but then all of a sudden debris started flying and we got to the closet,” Reid, 38, said on Tuesday. National Weather Service map of preliminary tornado tracks

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