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Dozens Killed as Oklahoma Tornado Devastates Suburb

By Michael B. Marois, Mike Lee and Brian K. Sullivan - 2013-05-21T08:00:13Z

Photograph by Brett Deering/Getty Images

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Carrying Backpack

“This is all I have left,” said Buettner. She was carrying a backpack and two acquaintances were carrying her laptop case and two small bags. Still, she said, “It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when all you lost were material things.”

Buettner lived in the same area in 1999, when another tornado tore through Moore, narrowly missing her parents’ home.

“I’ve spent most of the afternoon crying,” she said.

Oklahoma Representative James Lankford said there was a “tremendous amount of damage” along a 20-mile path through the southern suburbs of Oklahoma City.

“They are counting survivors at this point,” the Republican lawmaker told reporters.

Moore was hit hard by a tornado in 1999, with the highest winds ever recorded near the earth’s surface. The suburb is a middle class community with an average household income of $64,297 in 2010, well above the national average of $50,221, according to city budget documents and U.S. Census bureau data. Moore Public School district serves 22,175 students and is the third largest in the state.

Left, volunteers help clean out an upturned mobile home.