America

Amid Nails And Mud, Oklahoma Neighborhood Pulls Together

  • Brian Hock poses for a portrait in what is left of the home he shared with his wife and two daughters in the Heatherwood subdivision of Moore, Okla. They have lived in the 2,000-square-foot home for nine years and aren't sure what they'll do next.
    Hide caption
    Brian Hock poses for a portrait in what is left of the home he shared with his wife and two daughters in the Heatherwood subdivision of Moore, Okla. They have lived in the 2,000-square-foot home for nine years and aren't sure what they'll do next.
    Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
  • The Hock family managed to find their pet guinea pig, their mortgage papers, some dishes and an expensive bottle of wine in the rubble.
    Hide caption
    The Hock family managed to find their pet guinea pig, their mortgage papers, some dishes and an expensive bottle of wine in the rubble.
    Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
  • Sara Hock, 11, poses for a portrait in her bedroom window.
    Hide caption
    Sara Hock, 11, poses for a portrait in her bedroom window.
    Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
  • Matt Claxton sits before his shattered house. He and his wife and their two dogs rode out the storm in a neighbor's shelter across the street from their home in Heatherwood. The area behind Claxton is the room they had planned to shelter in.
    Hide caption
    Matt Claxton sits before his shattered house. He and his wife and their two dogs rode out the storm in a neighbor's shelter across the street from their home in Heatherwood. The area behind Claxton is the room they had planned to shelter in.
    Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
  • Siblings (from left) Alan, Sylvia and Ariel Trillo share a home in Heatherwood — one of few in the subdivision that is still standing, though everything inside is damaged. Sylvia was amazed at the outpouring of help the community received from strangers.
    Hide caption
    Siblings (from left) Alan, Sylvia and Ariel Trillo share a home in Heatherwood — one of few in the subdivision that is still standing, though everything inside is damaged. Sylvia was amazed at the outpouring of help the community received from strangers.
    Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
  • A battered vehicle sits amid the ruins following the Monday's tornado.
    Hide caption
    A battered vehicle sits amid the ruins following the Monday's tornado.
    Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
  • A bike lay in a yard in Heatherwood.
    Hide caption
    A bike lay in a yard in Heatherwood.
    Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
  • A Heatherwood home after the tornado. One subdivision resident said National Guardsmen and police arrived in the area about 15 minutes after the storm hit.
    Hide caption
    A Heatherwood home after the tornado. One subdivision resident said National Guardsmen and police arrived in the area about 15 minutes after the storm hit.
    Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
  • A home in the Heatherwood subdivision after the tornado. Several neighbors pitched in to help people dig out.
    Hide caption
    A home in the Heatherwood subdivision after the tornado. Several neighbors pitched in to help people dig out.
    Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
  • Some residents said they felt lucky to have survived, even if their homes were shattered.
    Hide caption
    Some residents said they felt lucky to have survived, even if their homes were shattered.
    Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

1 of 10

View slideshow i

Brian Hock was standing Wednesday evening in what used to be his home but is now 2,000 square feet of nothing. Still resting in a bag of dog food was the cup he uses to scoop kibble, emblazoned with the slogan "Fear not: God's love shines bright."

Hock was at work Monday when the tornado smashed his house in the Heatherwood subdivision of Moore, Okla. He says his daughters survived only because neighbors invited them to share a custom shelter.

Several residents in the neighborhood along Southeast Fourth Street have similar stories. Their section of Heatherwood was built about 11 years ago. It will all have to be rebuilt now.

A dusty TV screen is seen in a home in the Heatherwood subdivision in Moore, Okla., on Wednesday, damaged by the tornado that hit Monday. i i

hide captionA dusty TV screen is seen in a home in the Heatherwood subdivision in Moore, Okla., on Wednesday, damaged by the tornado that hit Monday.

Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
A dusty TV screen is seen in a home in the Heatherwood subdivision in Moore, Okla., on Wednesday, damaged by the tornado that hit Monday.

A dusty TV screen is seen in a home in the Heatherwood subdivision in Moore, Okla., on Wednesday, damaged by the tornado that hit Monday.

Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Some walls remain standing, but many houses have been destroyed. At one house, a crushed pickup truck is all that's keeping a garage roof from collapsing completely to the ground.

At another, people passing by along the street can see into the remains of a living room, where a brown couch faces a flat-screen TV that's caked with dust but still hanging on the wall.

Many houses are now simply unrecognizable piles of debris.

Matt Claxton said he thought his neighbor Stan might have been kidding when he emerged from his shelter and announced, "My truck is upside down on top of my neighbor's house." But the pickup truck is still there.

National Guardsmen and police arrived in the area about 15 minutes after the storm hit, Claxton says. Not long after, someone heard the voices of an older couple trapped in their house up the block. Everyone dropped what they were doing to run and help, he says, estimating that 20 people began pulling away rubble.

Along with Hock and a few other residents, Claxton put on heavy work gloves Wednesday night to start carting away piles of debris. Neighbors cautioned one another to watch out for the nails that seemed to be sticking up from pieces of wood everywhere you looked.

Claxton's brick home is a total loss. He points to a corner of bare foundation where he used to keep a desk and pay his bills. A native of the area, he's not sure he'll rebuild on the same lot.

Still, Claxton says he feels lucky. He and his wife rode out the storm along with their two dogs.

"It's just stuff," he says. "The memories are in our heads and in our hearts."

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: