Many Spent Memorial Day Cleaning Up Grand Lake After Tornado

Monday, May 30th 2011, 10:06 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

CLEORA, Oklahoma -- While the lakes were busy with people enjoying the nice weather, others were pre-occupied with the effects of the weather from last week.

Along the shoreline of Grand Lake, near Cleora, most everyone spent Memorial Day cleaning up, which is what they've been doing for a full week now.

The hard work shows in the sweat and sunburns of the people who live here.

"A lot of cleanup. We're all tired, it's been a lot of work," said Barry Barnhart, Cleora resident.

The tornado came over a hill and damaged at least 35 homes. The majority of the damage appears to be from large trees that fell onto homes, though some also have obvious high wind damage at ground level

Two trees and a power pole fell on the community Center building, so volunteers are salvaging what they can. All around, the tornado left behind twisted debris stacked on top of more debris.

"And of course cars under it, golf cars, boats and their docks turned upside down and piled on top of each other," said Cleora resident Jimmy Schmoll.

On the larger scale, the damage is much worse elsewhere in Joplin and in the Oklahoma City area; but on the smaller scale it's similar--a lot of people lost their homes and everything in them.

The big difference is that no one died here.

"The great thing is that no one was killed and not even anyone hurt out there," Schmoll said.

The storm moved past here and did more damage, but after it blew through, most people didn't have any way to follow the storm.

"And of course, we didn't even know about Joplin because we lost our power and our TV, and now we know we didn't even get a scratch compared to those poor people," Barnhart said.

The cleanup at Cleora will keep going while people here count their blessings in the middle of all the damage.

People who were there reported seeing several tornadoes cross the middle of Grand Lake - though not all of them left damage on land.

05/23/2011 Related story: Homeowner Shoots Video Of Tornado Near Monkey Island At Grand Lake