The storm moved on, leaving Hawkins in his back yard. Debris surrounded him — lumber, branches, a metal beam from the construction supply yard nearby. A round piece of metal half the size of his body lay inches away.
“If it had landed on top of me,” he said, “it would have killed me.”
Hawkins was treated for a cut on his head and spent the night with a friend in Del City. The next day, he returned to the remains of his home. He found some tools, an air conditioner, a garden tractor and some sheets of tin. Looters took it all, except for lumber and Bibles.
“I was not angry about losing my house,” he said. “It made me mad to think them robbers had come and cleaned me out.”
Where his house stood is now the Sheraton Hotel. He was able to buy a new home with insurance money, federal assistance and small gifts from strangers.
“I was surprised to get that kind of help,” he said, wiping away tears. “People are really good to me to help me. I was surprised.”