The tornado that devastated Moore, Okla., Monday destroyed some 12,000 homes, according to Oklahoma City Police. And for one family, it was the second house they've lost to a tornado in the past 14 years. Rena and Paul Phillips say that the recent loss won't make them move.
The Phillipses told their story to Rachel Hubbard of Oklahoma member station KOSU, who reports on how they're coping with the loss — and the search for belongings in the rubble of their home — for Thursday's All Things Considered.
Rena Phillips says she and her family, including her grandchildren, weathered the tornado in a storm shelter that they built 18 months ago. It's a precaution Paul Phillips says was warranted by what seemed to be a trend of tornadoes growing larger and more powerful.
The shocking damage wrought by Monday's tornado can be seen in striking detail in an NPR feature that allows viewers to zoom in on the scene from an aerial view.
Visiting the site of the Phillips family's wrecked home, Hubbard says, "We walk over toys and clothes mixed with shingles and insulation to get to the only part of the house left standing, a tiny interior hallway with blankets still in the cabinet. Rena points to a chart on the wall that she made for the grandkids."
It's a spot, Rena tells Hubbard, where she would often mark the children's height, along with the date.
The family relocated after the 1999 tornado. But this time, Rena says, they plan to stay put, and rebuild their house here.
"I ran last time, I'm not running again," she says. "It's like why run? You know I still had a little fear, but God deals with it. He peels that onion layer off, little by little, and says, I need this.... So, yeah, we're not leaving."