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STORM'S PATH HAS NO PITY

By Tony Thornton Modified: May 1, 2009 at 3:55 pm •  Published: May 1, 2009
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photo - Tornado damage: Regency Park housing Addition looking east from Sunset   towards Moore's First Baptist Church, and the traffic on I-35.
Tornado damage: Regency Park housing Addition looking east from Sunset towards Moore's First Baptist Church, and the traffic on I-35.
Del
City and Midwest City

Much of the Del Aire addition looks like a pile of pick-up sticks. From Bismarc Street, one can see the entire subdivision. Only 2-foot-tall piles of rubble block the view. Military Humvees guard Del Aire's entrances.

Inexplicably, but mercifully, the storm spared two large apartment complexes by switching directions at Del Aire's north edge. Instead, it turned east and took out a baseball field and industrial park.

As it snaked into Midwest City, the tornado crossed Interstate 40 and obliterated the Cracker Barrel Restaurant, a motel and several homes and businesses, but skipped over the Sweetbriar Nursing Home.

A vacant lot near the nursing home is indistinguishable from what used to be neighboring houses in the Crosby addition.

In Midwest City, three people died immediately and two others died in hospitals during the next week.

Near the intersection of Air Depot and NE 10, the tornado meekly returned to the sky. It left behind a 38-mile path of death, bitterness, sympathy, mourning, bewilderment, gratitude and, in the case of widower Jim Wilkerson, pragmatism.

"You can run but you can't hide when it comes to Mother Nature," he said.

Staff writers Bob Cramer, Bob Doucette, Amy Greene and Christy Watson contributed to this report.