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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Tornadoes touch down in Shawnee area

  • “We saw it coming toward us and we took off,” said Becka Ward-Flowers, whose home on Clearpond Road between Fishmarket and Walker roads was leveled by a tornado Sunday evening.
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  • "We saw it coming toward us and we took off," said Becka Ward-Flowers, whose home on Clearpond Road between Fishmarket and Walker roads was leveled by a tornado Sunday evening.
    Two tornadoes tore through northwest Pottawatomie County Sunday, destroying homes in the Bethel Acres area and overturning several vehicles at Interstate 40 and U.S. 177.
    Ward-Flowers and her husband, David, took shelter with a neighbor.
    "It's devastating out there," she said. "There are so many homes gone."
    The area is southwest of Shawnee Twin Lakes.
    Ward-Flowers lived in the home for more than three years. She and her husband sifted through the debris for any salvageable items, and found very few before nightfall, she said.
    The couple's four pets — one cat and three dogs — also survived the tornado. One of the dogs was injured and was taken to a veterinarian, and is expected to fully recover.
    As one of the tornadoes tore a path across Shawnee, two families who live on Garrett's Lake Road sought refuge from the intense noise and pressure in their backyard cellars. When the storm passed, one family emerged to find the roof of their home completely gone, while the other had damage and debris all around their home, but both families were safe.
    Ken and Sue Hasbell and several family members, after hearing the tornado was in the area of I-40 and U.S. 177, huddled in a cellar in the backyard of their home in the 37800-block of Garrett's Lake Road.
    As the tornado ripped the roof from their brick home, the pressure was intense, they said, even as they felt it pulling on the cellar door.
    "You could heard it get louder and louder," Ken said. "I heard it hit — I knew it was close."
    Sue said she heard a lot of wind and then "boom, crash, bang," sounds.
    After the commotion was over and it became quiet, they stayed inside a bit longer before peeking out the cellar door.
    Ken immediately saw the damage but surfaced with his family safe and sound.
    "It's replaceable — that's all that matters — everyone is safe," Ken said about the damage, with the roof of his home completely gone.
    "We're all OK — we prayed to the Lord to take care of us and he did," Sue added.
    In addition to the roof from their home, the tornado destroyed their barn.
    Their neighbors across the street — Lonnie and Connie Greenlee — also rode out the storm in a storm cellar with their family, including their grandchildren.
    Lonnie said they'd all been watching the storm and he actually saw the tornado as it approached.
    Page 2 of 2 - "It was about one-fourth mile wide," Lonnie said. "I was hoping it would go east but it kept getting closer."
    They all went to the backyard cellar and shut the door.
    "Two minutes later, you could hear it — it sounded like a freight train," Lonnie said. "We felt the pressure…there was a lot of hail."
    Although his home was mostly spared, there was quite a bit of exterior damage, along with uprooted trees in the yard. The tornado flattened both their barns, but luckily, their four horses were spared.
    "It was really scary — the noise — it got really quiet and then there was an awful roar," Connie said. "It was horrible — the popping in our ears."
    Her grandchildren agreed.
    Nine-year-old Mattie Rich has always been afraid of thunderstorms.
    "It was crazy — it was loud. It was scary," Mattie said.
    Emma Rich, 12, said, "It didn't seem real."
    Connie, who said she started bawling when she left the cellar and saw all the debris and damage, said they were thankful they were all okay and their home was still standing. She said things could be repaired and replaced.
    "It'll take a lot of work," Connie said, adding her grandson, 7-year-old Ethan, when he first saw the aftermath, asked, "Grandma, how long will this take to get back to normal?"
    Connie, who said she's just thankful they had a cellar, said they were having an enjoyable day outside with the grandchildren swimming in the pool before the skies turned dark and violent.
    As they sifted through some of the debris before dark, "We found two or three photos that we don't know who they belong to."
    "We were blessed, very blessed," Connie added.
    Ward-Flowers' niece was working at Shawnee Mall when the storms hit, she said. Early weather reports indicated that the mall was in the path of one of the tornadoes, but no damage was reported in that immediate area.
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