More thunderstorms hit damaged Oklahoma City

Severe weather warnings were forecast for Tuesday afternoon in this area.

BY PJ HELLER | OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. | May 13, 2003

Severe weather warnings were forecast for Tuesday afternoon in this area already devastated by a string of tornadoes that damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and caused an estimated $100 million in damages.

Forecasters said there was a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Tuesday, some of which could become severe by late in the day. Showers and thunderstorms were also forecast for Wednesday.

The bad weather could cause more headaches for residents already coping with homes that have had their roofs blown off, walls knocked down and windows blown out. Many of those homes and businesses remain exposed to the elements.

The storms could also hamper cleanup efforts, which on Monday were under way in Bethany with the assistance of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Chain Saw Unit, which was cutting and clearing away downed tree limbs.

"These guys are awesome," said resident Rick Seteda.

One television commentator said the chain saw gang was on a "mission of mercy."

Bethany was struck by twisters Friday night.

Young people from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were helping clear debris in Moore on Sunday. That community was hit by a tornado Thursday.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief was offering debris removal in the affected areas. Other faith-based groups were also offering assistance.

Johnny Wray, director of the Week of Compassion, a giving program administered by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) toured some of the stricken areas Monday and met with Pastor Mike Hohlier of First Christian Church of Moore, which was destroyed by the tornado. Another Disciples church in Moore was damaged.

Wray said he came to Oklahoma to find out not only what happened to the churches but also how the storms affected individual church members as well as the larger community.

One of the homeowners he met with was J.W. Franklin, whose house in Oklahoma City suffered major damage. His parents' house, located next door, was also damaged.

Franklin said he ran to a bedroom in the center of the house and pulled a mattress over himself when the storm hit.

"Just as I got it (the mattress) over me, the storm hit," he said. "And then it was over."

Another home, almost directly across the street, had the roof blown off but every window in the structure was still intact.

Franklin, whose entire roof was already covered with blue tarp, said he expected he would have to move out of the house for two months while repair work was underway. He said he was insured.

The Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, a consortium of response groups, was scheduled to meet Tuesday morning.

Meteorologists said Thursday's twister was an F4, with winds of between 207 and 260 miles per hour. Friday's tornado was an F3, packing winds of 158 to 206 mph, they reported.

Schools, meantime, reopened in the affected areas although some classrooms had to be shifted to different locations as repair work continued.

Last week's twisters injured more than 100 people. One storm-related death was reported, that of an 80-year-old man who was injured in Friday's violent weather. He died Sunday at a local hospital, authorities reported.

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