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Month after tornado, cleanup continues in Oklahoma

Cleanup continues a month after the May 10 tornado outbreak in Oklahoma

by Bryan Painter Modified: June 10, 2010 at 6:23 am •  Published: June 10, 2010

BETHEL ACRES — Some signs of the May 10 tornado damage on the Dunsworth family's 55 acres are subtle.

To start with, Howard Dunsworth didn't have to open the door on his tractor to visit this week because every window in the machine was blown out by the tornado.

The dirt he was working Tuesday is a pad for a new barn, which will also contain living quarters.

Then there are the not-so-subtle signs on their land in northern Pottawatomie County, nestled between Dale and Bethel Acres.

Those include the mangled maroon Toyota 4Runner, a single north facing wall from what was an almost completed new home and a boxcar that was rolled and tossed about 600 feet northeast of where it started.

A month ago today, at least 31 tornadoes stomped through Oklahoma, including two EF-4s, four EF-3s and three EF-2s, according to the National Weather Service. Tammy Rider, 29, of Newalla, was killed near Rock Creek Road and Harrah-Newalla Road and Wilbern Patterson, 55, of Oregon, was killed near SE 59th and Peebly Road in Oklahoma City. Joanne Kay Ross, 65, of Harrah died Friday from complications from injuries suffered during the May 10 tornado outbreak. A woman also suffered a fatal heart attack while trying to get to a shelter.

Starting over, again
As I leaned up against the tractor, Dunsworth said something in a subtle manner.

"It got our house and two barns, one of them had living quarters in it,” he said of the May 10 tornado. "That's where our son was living and where we stayed after we lost our other home.”

Howard and Jackie Dunsworth bought the place in 1995. A dozen years later on Valentine's Day, a stove accidentally left on during a trip to the store led to a fire that destroyed the house.

They were settling into the new home which, including a wrap-around porch, had about 6,000 square feet. From that porch they could watch their Longhorn cattle or gaze down upon the almost park-like scenery among the pecan trees.

Now, Howard's working the dirt for the site of a new barn in which they will live until they make new plans.

"I told my wife, 'If ever you wanted to sell, do so now,'” he said. "I would put up a 'For Sale' sign and say 'As is.'”

There's no indication she's ready to bid this area farewell.

She would however, be more than happy to one day say that the first tornado she experienced was the last she had to endure.

Memories and divots
Having learned from the tragedy of the fire, Jackie didn't want to lose what few family photos she had. has disabled the comments for this article.
by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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