TECUMSEH — Some Tecumseh residents say there is an American Indian myth professing their city is protected against tornadoes because it’s between two rivers and named after an Indian chief. This week, that myth was debunked, said Melvin Potter, the city’s emergency management director. "As crazy as it sounds, it did sort of give people a false sense of security,” Potter said. The hum of chainsaws and the pounding of hammers could be heard throughout the city Wednesday as fallen trees were cleared and debris hauled curbside. Lowe’s home improvement store was among several businesses that donated plywood, tarps, nails and materials for homeowners to secure their property. Tornado victims were not alone with the cleanup. Volunteers with local churches, civic clubs and individuals with no affiliation to any group came to help. Evan Stokes, 21, a church missionary from Utah, hauled lumber from a flattened home. Tecumseh High School students Bailey Cleere and Chelsea Williams rode on the tailgate of a pickup passing out water and warm snacks. Potter said catastrophes like this bring out both the good and bad in people. A family whose home was destroyed by a tornado had horse equipment stolen from their barn this week, he said. To protect against theft and looting, officers have been enlisted from other counties to help patrol damaged areas throughout the county, Potter said. A curfew is in place from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. until further notice. He said the tornado damaged 200 homes in Tecumseh, and an additional 200 in the Earlsboro and South Rock Creek area. About 100 in the rural eastern part of the county had major damage or were destroyed. Tommy Campbell, 54, of Earlsboro, said he is camping outside his demolished two-story house to protect what’s left of their property. Campbell and his wife, Sherry, were inside the house when the tornado hit, taking it, their vehicles and outbuildings, he said. Overalls that hung in an upstairs closet were found about a mile away in an open pasture, he said. "I’ve lost stuff before, but never all at one time,” Tommy Campbell said. Workers from Shawnee Monument were in Earlsboro Cemetery on State Highway 9A resetting tombstones unearthed in the storm. John Permetter, president of the cemetery association, said dozens of tombstones were thrown about, trees were plucked from the ground and a fence blown hundreds of feet. He said the association is already strapped for funds, so he’s unsure how they’ll manage the cleanup. From the spot where Charles Taylor, 37, used to sit in his favorite chair in his living room, he can see miles of debris from his shattered mobile home. The Earlsboro man said cleanup would be somewhat easy because there is little to salvage.
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