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Starting over: Family with local connections looks to rebuild after tornado devastates Moore

May 28, 2013

In this Associated Press file photo taken Sunday, Michael Tackett pushes tornado debris to the curb as he helps clean up the home of Brian McAlister, in Moore, Okla. One family that lost its home in the destruction in Moore has local ties, and a local woman is looking to raise funds to support the family members in their chance at rebuilding — not only their house, but their lives. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Imagine this: You walk into an interior closet of your home to seek shelter from an impending tornado.

When you enter, your house is intact; and when you exit, the only thing left is the closet.

This is one of the many true stories from the deadly tornados that struck Moore, Okla., last week.

This particular disaster strikes close to home right here in Punxsutawney, as Amy Morris, a local attorney, has several friends who live in Moore.

"I have three sets of friends that I attended law school with. Two of the families' houses survived, while the third one lost everything," Morris said, adding that the family found some yearbooks that were several blocks away.

Morris said that Kevin and Della Pickens were the owners and are currently staying at the home of Rosalee Morris, another friend from law
school at Oklahoma City University.

"Homes in Oklahoma do not have basements due to the terrain, and the Pickens were headed to the neighbors, who had an emergency shelter. When all was said and done, everything was gone, including their three vehicles. Her son's vehicle was found half a block away on its roof," Morris said, adding that the house was insured, but the vehicles weren't.
"Kevin had a brain aneurysm and was unable to work for several months," she said.

Morris said all their worldly possessions are gone and they are not rich people.

"They need financial assistance and could use any donations. If anyone wants to help this family rebuild their lives, it would be much appreciated," Morris said.

She said if anyone in Punxsutawney wants to donate to help the Pickens family, there's an account set up at the Hampton Avenue branch of S&T Bank in Punxsy.

Morris said checks should be made out to Amy J. Morris or Kevin and Della Pickens.

She said cash, checks or money orders will be accepted; however, they are not tax deductible.

"Kevin and Della are lucky to be alive; they had their cat with them in the closet," she said. "There was a large wooden beam embedded in the wall of the closet that just missed hitting them."

Morris concluded by saying that if anyone has any questions about the family’s run-in with this tragedy and how they can help, they should call her office at 938-1990.

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