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Victims Tell Stories Of Fear, Outreach

Oklahoman Published: May 4, 1999
For residents of one Moore neighborhood, the tornado's approach was too familiar. When the area was hit by a tornado in October, Ronna Johnson and her family took cover in a closet. But when they heard the warnings Monday, they headed for a neighbor's cellar.

"And Then I Started Crying. I Said, 'This Is Not Right ... .'"

"I think it was close to 7:30. And God, it just hit. It was so loud. It was so much louder than the last time," said Johnson, who lives on Windermere Drive, north of 12th Street between Janeway and Santa Fe.

She said her husband and her 19- year-old son held tight to the door.

"We came out and noticed we had tons of debris all over our yard and some rafters impaled in our lawn. And our house was just covered with mud. And to the west, it was just rubble.

"And then I started crying. I said, 'This is not right ... .'

"And I am so fortunate that my family is safe and we have a roof over our head," Johnson said.

"I actually started crying, because I saw what happened. It just tore me up."

Johnson said neighbors came running, asking for anyone who could do CPR in an area about a block away.

"My husband, Nelson, went down there ... it's about a block away from us. There's nothing. It's just lumber," Johnson said.

"We went down there, because they said they needed anybody who could do CPR. So, he ran down, and I don't know the exact status, but we're a little bit scared that there's people dead and maybe a little girl," Johnson said.

A house was burning.

"We can't get out of the neighborhood. They've got it completely shut down," Johnson said about 9:30 p.m.

"When the Lights Went Off, I Was Just Waiting for the Roof to Peel Off."

Linda and Keith Plunkett's Moore home survived the torrent. Linda Plunkett rode out the tornado in her home's bathtub, listening to storm reports on a battery- powered radio.

"I'd been watching it since Chickasha. When they mentioned it was in Newcastle and then Southwest 149th Street, I started to get a little shaky. Then they said it turned left, and they mentioned 89th Street -- we live off of 89th and Bryant -- I knew it was just a few miles away. I thought we were directly in its path.

"I grabbed our dogs and shoved them into the bathroom. I got in the bathtub with the radio and covered up with a comforter. When the lights went off, I was just waiting for the roof to peel off.

"I could hear the hail and wind, debris hitting the rooftop. It didn't sound like a train; it just sounded like a loud, roaring wind. But it seemed like it lasted only a few seconds."

The storm blew down their fences and tore shingles off the roof. Debris, including children's clothing, was strewn in the Plunketts' back yard.

"Some neighbors were walking around and said there were duplexes two blocks away that were destroyed, and there were some dead dogs in the street," Linda Plunkett said.

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