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Before the Storm, Moore, OK, Was A Delightful Place

Moore, OK, is a next-four-exits town on I-35 just north of the University of Oklahoma with lots of restaurants lining the interstate. Elizabeth and I ate brisket and ribs at Earl’s Rib Palace two weeks ago on a calm, sunny day without any hint of the destruction that would fall from the sky, wiping out a huge chunk of town.
Moore boasts that it is the “Home of Toby Keith” painted in large blue letters on the water tower.
Earl’s Rib Palace survived the monster tornado that leveled much town. “Earls employees in Moore are safe and accounted for! There is debris in the restaurant but everyone is safe,” the store posted on its Facebook page.
The town also has one of the world’s largest IMAX screens, a 60-footer, at the fancy Warren Theater. We saw the latest James Bond movie there last fall. The theater received some exterior damage in the storm and was converted to the command central of the tornado rescue teams.
Our son got out of Oklahoma just in time.
Another Davie County native, however, has made Oklahoma her home for 36 years, and she’s staying. Darlene Smith Case lives in nearby Midwest City. She married Davie High sweetheart Bill Case. His parents had worked at Gravely Tractor in Clemmons and bought a Gravely dealership in Oklahoma.
Darlene and Bill moved to Oklahoma to join the family business in 1977.
“I told him I would give it a year, and I’m still here 36 years later,” Darlene said by phone last week. Her dad, the late Kermit Smith, served as Davie County Register of Deeds for 32 years and seemed to know everybody in the county.
Bill has become an Oklahoma politician. He served 12 years in the legislature until term limits forced him to step aside.
They live about eight miles from where the tornado struck.
 “There were tornadoes north of us and southeast of us,” she said. “I just saw big black skies. It constantly rumbled thunder.”
The Cases don’t have a storm shelter. They have an emergency kit and considered jumping in the car and driving away from the predicted path of the storm.
“Not many homes have basements. A lot of people have put in storm shelters, and I’m seriously considering it. It’s scary,” she said.
Tornadoes are a part of life in Oklahoma, but they usually hit late in the evening, usually in rural areas. This one struck during school hours in a town of 50,000 people.
“The fact that it hit a school and the children were still in school just breaks your heart,” she said. “There has been such an outpouring of support from people. Every organization and business you can think of has donated. Churches have sent things there. They have a lot of organized groups going down there to clean up.”
Utility crews were getting the electricity back on last week. The damage is easily seen from I-35, but Mrs. Case said she hasn’t ventured there.
“I just hurt for all those people who lost everything — lost loved ones.”
By now they are fully converted Oklahomans …