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OK residents dig up memories

Kelli Green has plenty of memories about growing up in the brick house at 1301 City Avenue.

BY PJ HELLER | MOORE, Okla. | May 12, 2003

"To know you'll drive by here and never be back here again, that's kind of hard."

—Kelli Green

Kelli Green has plenty of memories about growing up in the brick house at 1301 City Avenue.

And after she was married, she and her husband, Mike, purchased the home from her parents and continued to live there.

So it was with mixed emotions that she viewed the rubble of her home Sunday, the result of last week's tornadoes which ripped through the Oklahoma City area.

She recalled a tornado in the 1970s that blew out some windows of the house and knocked out some bricks. The devastating May 3, 1999 twister came close but didn't cause any damage to the house.

Last week they weren't so lucky, as a tornado made a shambles of the home. Neither she nor her husband was home at the time.

"It's a hard thing to look at," she said as she dug around trying to see what she could salvage. "It's pretty rough."

The house will soon become even more of a memory, as the Greens don't plan on rebuilding there. It's not because of the tornadoes, which Kelli Green says have been getting "closer every year." Rather, it's because of traffic and noise at the intersection where the house is situated.

"To know you'll drive by here and never be back here again, that's kind of hard," she said.

But the Greens won't be alone.

Peggy Gattenby who lives nearby said she has had it with the tornadoes in the area and plans to move elsewhere in the state.

On Sunday, Gattenby, like most of her neighbors, continued to pick through the rubble of her home, trying to find whatever she could in the shambles of her house. The sounds of chainsaws and portable generators echoed on some streets.

"I don't know if I'll be able to salvage anything," Gattenby admitted. "I'm taking it all out but I don't know if any of it will be worth keeping."

As residents dug through the debris, some found that some of their precious items had been spared. Others, like Gattenby, weren't so lucky.

"I lost all of my mother's dishes that I had stored out in the garage and some antiques I had out there," she said. "That meant more to me than things that didn't break in the house."

Across the street, Lynn Dennis said that while her house was a total loss, some treasured items came through untouched.

"The items that were irreplaceable to me are fine," she said. "I had china in a cabinet and not a plate fell over. I couldn't replace it. It was great-grandmother china. And it's fine. The baby pictures in the closet are all fine, too."

Other nearby residents looked in awe at the power of the storm.

In Bob Hand's kitchen, he showed off the area where the roof had been lifted off the house and then set back down. In the cracks between the roof and wall, kitchen potholders and hot pads had been whipped by the winds into the openings.

Other houses experienced similar events, including one that had the curtains hanging outside the house after the roof was lifted off and then set back down, Hands reported.

A house next to Hand's home that suffered extensive damage had a goldfish bowl still sitting on a bedroom shelf amid the debris. A Harley motorcycle that had been parked in the garage came through with a single dent.

"It (the Harley) made it through with the neighbors house sitting on top of it," said a worker at the house.

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