Michelle Hoke and her family will attend the Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert in Norman today, but the local family personally met one of the singers — country star Ronnie Dunn — when he spent the Fourth of July with Steelman Estates area families who lost their homes to the May 19 tornado.
“He was a nice guy — down to earth,” Hoke said about Dunn’s visit to Shawnee, adding it was nice of him and his family to stop by.
Dunn will join other performers, including Toby Keith, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson and others, who are performing in the concert benefiting United Way’s fund to aid victims of the May storms.
Hoke said she, her husband James, daughter Cassie, son J.W., and their puppy, Lucy, visited with Dunn about that Sunday evening in May.
While the children weren’t quite sure about knowing Dunn from his music, even from his former days with the duo Brooks and Dunn, she did.
“I’ve always been a country music girl,” she said.
During the visit, J.W., who has a new bicycle now, showed Dunn the damage the tornado did to his bike, then gave Dunn a gift — a frog.
“There’s baby frogs jumping around and he’s been offering them to people,” his mother said with a laugh.
Dunn, apparently touched by the frog gesture, included that part of his of visit on his Facebook Page, along with many other comments and photographs from his day in the Shawnee/Bethel Acres area.
The family talked to Dunn about riding out — and surviving — the storm in their cellar on May 19.
“We were in the eye of the storm,” Hoke said, with their home located on the north end of the addition.
They and so many others affected in Steelman Estates are still working to start over after losing so much.
And while there’s been an outpouring of visits and assistance from volunteers from near and far, on the Fourth of July, the visit from Dunn was a welcome diversion from the day-to-day realities of the storm-damaged area.
“He wants to spread the word that we’re still needing help,” she said.
The Hoke family, who plan to rebuild, are now residing in a rent house in Shawnee, but many in Steelman Estates continue to live there — some in tents provided by ShelterBox and a few in RV’s or mobile homes that have been donated.
Page 2 of 2 - On his Facebook page, Dunn wrote about the May 19 storm destroying 85 homes and killing two in this area on May 19, a day before tornadoes devastated Moore. He also wrote that he was both shocked and impressed that a coalition group of independent bikers were out in Steelman Estates cooking daily meals in tents for the survivors. He wrote about there being Boy Scouts, church volunteers and others at the scene to give the people of Steelman Estates a helping hand.
District 2 Pottawatomie County Commissioner Randy Thomas, who was there for the visit and said Dunn and his family were humbled, said Dunn “just fit in,” with everyone who has provided help and encouragement for those affected by the tornadoes.