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Survivors of 1999 Oklahoma tornado return help to victims in Newalla

Victims of the May 3, 1999 tornado in Moore are returning the Oklahoma kindness they experienced by helping out those in Newalla who lost their homes.

BY MEGAN ROLLAND Modified: May 13, 2010 at 9:46 am •  Published: May 13, 2010

NEWALLA — Denise Halpin learned about the power of volunteers when people helped her after a tornado demolished her home in Moore on May 3, 1999.

So on Wednesday, she was helping Ted Hensley two days after a tornado blew the roof off his home near in Newalla. Halpin’s teenage son, Cody Brown, and two of his friends were picking up debris and cutting away downed trees. They have free time on their hands because tornado damage has closed their school in Little Axe.

"It’s not anything you want to see anybody have to go through,” she said. "You’re picking up your memories from the front yard. It’s really devastating. My heart goes out to these people.” Halpin said.

Hensley, 48, returned from a business trip Tuesday to find the top of his house gone, his possessions sprawled across the block and his five cats roaming the streets.

"It’s pretty overwhelming,” he said.

In 1999, the roles of Hensley and Halpin were reversed. It was Hensley’s home in Moore that survived the storm untouched, and he had lent a hand to his less fortunate neighbors.

The returned favor meant something to Hensley who said he otherwise wouldn’t have known what to do.

"They cleaned up all the trees in my front yard. Ongoing Coverage: May 10 tornadoes

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