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MOORE, Okla. (CBS 11 NEWS) – A massive clean up effort is underway in Moore, Oklahoma, after a tornado left a path of destruction Wednesday night.
Homes directly in the path were no match for the wind. Many lost roofs or walls. A radio station antennae even snapped in half. The Southgate-Rippetoe Elementary School’s entire west side was damaged.
The neighborhood hardest hit was not far north of the area that was devastated by a deadly EF-5 tornado on May 20, 2013.
“I’ve lived here all this time and had several close calls,” said Joetta Strain.
Strain, 73, has lived in her Moore home for 41 years. Mother Nature called her number last night – the tornado destroyed every room of her house, except for the closet where she took cover. Her granddaughter called her to warn her about the tornado, and Strain didn’t have time to make it to her storm shelter.
“I got my puppy and got in the closet, and I had to hold onto the door because it was slightly open and I could feel the suction trying to open the door,” she said.
Homeowners began cleaning up under darkness Wednesday night and intensified the effort once the sun came up Thursday.
Jose Gonzales said, “We were going through the neighborhoods, helping,that’s all that matters.”
Gonzales and his co-workers from UE Manufacturing cleared debris blown down from roof tops and siding. Even though they don’t live in the neighborhood, this type of emergency is personal.
“It’s pretty sentimental. Two years ago, our boss’s wife died in the tornado. It was pretty intense for us,” said Octavio Guzman.
The Red Cross and other disaster relief organizations went door-to-door passing out food and water. Insurance adjusters, demolition companies and city service crews added to the gathering.
Shirley Houck’s home was seriously damaged: with the entire back wall of brick blown over.
To make matters worse, looters stole electronics from her home when first-responders told her family to leave the area. Houck recalled that police said it was unsafe, and the family didn’t have time to board up the holes. Between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. someone broke inside, even though officers were watching the neighborhood.
“I think looters watch for this,” Houck said. “They’re quiet. They’re vultures. They’re scum of the earth that steal from a child in the midst of something like this.”
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