After Tornado, Some Moore, Okla., Residents Have Had Enough

Determined to rebuild, people in Moore, Okla., have already cleared mountains of debris. But with two monster tornadoes in the last 15 years, does anyone want to leave? At least two women say they've finally had enough.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In Moore, Oklahoma, residents and volunteers are deep into cleanup and not for the first time. Moore has been hit by several powerful tornadoes in the past 15 years. Many residents insist they're staying in Moore despite the danger of tornadoes.

In fact, as we hear from Rachel Hubbard of member station KOSU, it's hard to find someone who wants to leave. But she did find two friends who say they've had enough.

RACHEL HUBBARD, BYLINE: The tornado that roared through here last week turned Kristy Parrish's life upside down. She is now staying with her best friend Dana Clenney. They stand staring at the mismatched pile of what they've collected: a Jimi Hendrix poster, a black high-heeled shoe covered with white sheet rock; other items show up with strangers. One person helped Parrish find her dog under the foundation of her shed days after the tornado. Today, a stranger returns her cell phone.

DANA CLENNEY: That's the phone, yay.

KRISTY PARRISH: That's my Snoopy. Thank you so much.

(LAUGHTER)

EBERT: Not a problem. That's amazing I found it the way I did.

PARRISH: How are you, Ebert?

CLENNEY: And that's your brand-new case.

(LAUGHTER)

PARRISH: And look, he's not even dirty.

CLENNEY: That's awesome.

HUBBARD: She said such acts of kindness restore her faith in humanity. She may have restored faith but not the resolve to stay here. Parrish and Clenney haven't decided where they are moving to, but they say they're going together.

PARRISH: I am going that direction. I've live in Oklahoma my whole life.

CLENNEY: I'm thinking Washington.

PARRISH: Oh, I would love that as well. But I'm just - I love Oklahoma. This is my home.

CLENNEY: Let's get way out of tornado alley.

PARRISH: But yeah, not here.

HUBBARD: Since 1999, Kristy and her best friend Dana have survived three large tornadoes here. The first one, Dana rode out in a bathtub as the house around her crumbled. The second, in 2003, left Kristy homeless after it hit her apartment complex. And this one leveled her house. But with monster tornadoes, it's easy to forget the small ones.

PARRISH: Yes.

CLENNEY: I think it's been more than three, because there was one that hit the Godfather's. That was a different one than hit those apartments over there. And that was at the same intersection.

PARRISH: I forgot all about - they were like F2s and threes, bigger. You know, this was a little bigger. It was just...

CLENNEY: Pish posh.

HUBBARD: It's probably hard for outsiders to understand, but Parrish and Clenney are actually a rarity here. Even people who have lost at least two homes say without a doubt they plan to rebuild right here again. The repeat twisters even seem to increase their resolve. So what is it about Moore?

Kristy Parrish.

PARRISH: It was close to Oklahoma City, down the street from, you know, sister/best friend, school systems used to be good here.

(LAUGHTER)

PARRISH: So I thought why not.

HUBBARD: And another reason is cost. The population has increased by more than a third in just the past decade. Even after living through one monster tornado, Clenney chose to stay here.

CLENNEY: This was an affordable house to buy and I wanted a home where I could have a cellar and feel safe. And that was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. You know, nobody ever expected to see another one of those in the same city. And now that it has, I'm out.

(LAUGHTER)

CLENNEY: I'm done.

HUBBARD: Clenney plans to sell her house and leave with Parrish as soon as possible.

CLENNEY: Third time charm could kill you the next time. It's like playing Russian roulette. That's how I feel after living through it, watching her, watching what I'm going through.

HUBBARD: Both women say they know that bad weather can happen anywhere, but three huge tornadoes in less than 15 years hitting in the same spot is just too much for them. They're hoping for a little peace, far away from tornado sirens.

For NPR News, I'm Rachel Hubbard.

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