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Okla. twister hits close to home

May 04, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

WILLIAMSPORT - Carney Harrell's son lost his Moore, Okla., house to a tornado on Monday, but most important, his son's family is all right.

"We're blessed," Harrell said Tuesday evening in a telephone interview from his home at 14601 Falling Waters Road.

Harrell's daughter called him Monday from Cumberland, Md., to let him know about the tornadoes whipping through the Oklahoma City suburbs where his son, Michael Eugene Harrell, and daughter, Naomi Hailey, have lived for about 15 years.

"I was awake every hour last night," said Harrell, 76.

"(Michael) called me at 2 o'clock in the morning to let me know he was all right," Harrell said. The younger Harrell called from a church near a friend's house where he and his wife sought shelter during the tornadoes.

"He didn't describe it much. He was pretty shook up," Harrell said.

Michael Harrell's one-story house was gone, as were his car, van and bass boat, which hadn't yet been found. A tornado threw the new van two blocks away.

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Harrell said his son's yellow Corvette was shown repeatedly in the news coverage of the devastation. It landed on someone else's lot, he said.

Tornadoes occur in that area, known as Tornado Alley, every year, but they had never hit his children's homes before, Harrell said.

Harrell's daughter was luckier.

She emerged from the storm to find someone else's trash had been dumped in her Del City yard by the storm, but her home was not damaged, Harrell said. Del City is a suburb east of Oklahoma City.

Both Michael Harrell and Naomi Hailey grew up in Washington County, graduating from Williamsport High School, where Michael Harrell played the trumpet in the school band, their father said.

Michael Harrell is around 40 years old and Hailey is in her late 40s, Harrell said. They are two of Harrell's 16 children.

Harrell wants their many friends in the area to know they are both all right.

Harrell said his grandchildren living in that area also are all right.

Rescue officials set the death toll at 43 Tuesday night and were still searching for survivors. As many as four dozen tornadoes struck the Oklahoma and Kansas from Monday afternoon to Tuesday morning.

With the number of homes destroyed, many more people could have been killed, Harrell said.

"They did a good job of warning them ahead of time and getting them to safety," he said.

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