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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Bethel Acres couple escapes tornado

  • After tornadoes tore apart areas of Shawnee and Bethel Acres, Anne and Kenneth Byrd took action to receive aid Monday as their home was destroyed.
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  • After tornadoes tore apart areas of Shawnee and Bethel Acres, Anne and Kenneth Byrd took action to receive aid Monday as their home was destroyed.
     
    The couple took to the road and drove trying to outrun the storm. Although this is generally not recommended, Anne said she is glad they did it.
     
    “My mother said the tornado hit about 45 seconds after we got out of there,” she said.
     
    Kenneth Byrd said the main house on their property was damaged, but not destroyed. However the trailer Kenneth and Anne lived in was overturned and destroyed. Kenneth said he spent the next several hours digging through rubble searching for animals and anything else he could find.
     
    “Everybody made it alive, thankfully,” Kenneth said.
     
    He added that with help from neighbors, the roads were cleared before county crews arrived.
     
    “We’re going to send them a bill,” Kenneth said with a laugh.
     
    While the Byrds applied for aid, James Thorpe, a Shawnee resident, volunteered with the Red Cross coordinating efforts.
     
    Thorpe said he began volunteering with the tornado that hit Tecumseh a few years ago.
     
    “I got bored. I was going stir crazy,” he said. “I’ve been volunteering ever since.”
     
    Thorpe said he never enjoys disasters, especially when people he knows personally are affected like the Byrds. However, Thorpe said he does enjoy the opportunity to meet new people and help where he can.
     
    “It’s great to show Oklahoma’s true spirit of helping others,” Thorpe said.
     
    The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army are both accepting financial donations through their websites: redcross.org and salvationarmyusa.com.
     
    Additionally, residents are encouraged to text RedCross to 90999, which adds $10 to a phone bill for a donation to the Red Cross of the same amount.
     
    A shelter is still available for those displaced at Shawnee High School, 1001 N. Kennedy. Additionally, meals are available at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center, 1700 N. Independence, along with other assistance.
     
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