Tornado recovery continues in McClain County

Residents of McClain County are still recovering from tornado damage. Homes still are being rebuilt from the May 24 tornado.
BY ROBERT MEDLEY rmedley@opubco.com Published: November 21, 2011

— An amputee needed a new wheelchair ramp to get into his tornado-damaged home.

Some of his neighbors have moved into trailers, or remained in their damaged houses where they sleep on screened-in porches.

Others have had no heating and air conditioning since May 24 tornadoes caused damage across the county, said Linda Molsbee, Newcastle vice mayor and chairwoman of the McClain County long term disaster recovery committee.

The committee was formed with volunteers to oversee the efforts and various organizations assisting in disaster recovery from the May 24 tornadoes. A series of ribbon-cuttings at homes fixed up and rebuilt is under way. The first ribbon cutting at a restored home was at the home of Zarabeth Butler on Oct. 28.

The tornadoes destroyed 119 homes and businesses and damaged 189 others in McClain County, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reports. “We're still working like crazy people trying to recover from the tornado,” Molsbee said.

Charlene Phillips, 37, was at home on May 24 with her husband, Marcus, and their two sons and two daughters when the tornado swooped in. They rode it out in a neighbor's storm cellar.

Their house was covered by insurance, and they've been living in a 30-foot travel trailer while it's being rebuilt. But they won't be in the new house before Christmas. Charlene Phillips said her children are “stressing.”

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