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Red Dirt Rooted S


The tornado restoration story of a brave Oklahoma lady who is committed to blooming where she is planted


By Jocelyn Pedersen


urrounded by the land she loves, a nonagenarian is rebuilding her home for the third time. Oklahoma Electric Cooperative member Nancy Davis, 95, has survived two major tornadoes. In 1999 she hid under a bed


while a tornado took her home. People came to her aid and she lived to tell the tale and rebuild her house only to have another tornado claim her home on May 20, 2013. Last year when an EF5 tornado blew through Moore, Okla., Davis took shelter underground with six people including her niece, Kay Taylor, and a few neighbors. Davis said the tornado was so loud you could hear it, “kapow!” when it tore the brick off. When the covey emerged from the storm shelter, Davis’ house was gone. Again. Davis said she called a friend, Deacon Byron Jacobson from St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Norman, Okla., and told him she wouldn’t be com- ing to a function on Saturday, because her house had been blown away. Davis reports that Jacobson said, “I’ll be after you in just a few minutes,” and he came to collect Davis. He and his wife Cheryl took Davis in and made her comfortable in their home.


After a time, the Jacobsons took Davis to visit Brookhaven Mansions, a senior living community in Norman. Davis looked around but didn’t commit. What she really wanted was to go home, but others advised against it. Nobody wanted her to go back to the uneven surfaces and glass shards to which her house had been reduced. Davis said she understood why others didn’t want her to go back to her house; it was because she’d be heartbroken. Some of her friends brought her a few salvaged treasures from the rubble: a couple of beloved poems her late husband of 57 years had written to her and some pictures she’d painted.


A new life with a few old treasures lay ahead. Wanting a place of her own, Davis tucked a set of sheets under her arm and arrived at Brookhaven Mansions where Director Melva Noakes de- scribed the scene. “This lady walked through the door with nothing but her sheets and


said, “I’m moving in today,” Noakes recalled. Noakes took the sheets and asked Davis if she’d had lunch. Davis re- plied that she hadn’t, so Noakes showed her to the dining room. When she returned to her offi ce, she summoned her staff who, in record time, moved the furniture from the model apartment into Davis’ new one. Helping hands at work. Noakes said it was wonderful to see everyone pulling together and giv- ing. She described Davis as a “beautiful lady” and said she was thankful to have her at Brookhaven Mansions. Davis sat in her new apartment, grateful for all the help she’d received, but sorrow and compassion spilled over when she wondered aloud why


38 WWW.OK-LIVING.COOP


Nancy Davis holds a poem her husband of 57 years wrote for her. Davis, a nonagenarian, survived a 1999 tornado and rebuilt only to have her home devastated again by the 2013 tornado. This poem was survived. Photo by Jocelyn Pedersen


she had been spared when young children had perished, saying it was “fantastically bad.” And it was.


But it must not be her time despite wondering aloud why she’d survived “two of them.” Sitting in her apartment a year ago asking questions that had few answers, Davis admitted to missing her tomato plants and la- mented the fact that many were advising her not rebuild again at her age. But even then Davis said she planned to talk to the insurance agent. Which she did. And now Davis is living in a fi fth-wheel, overseeing the construction of her home for a third time. This time, there’s a safe room built in so she doesn’t have to maneuver the stairs down to a cellar. Whether Davis takes shelter from storms above or below the ground, it’s clear she’s rooted to the red Oklahoma dirt. Of her stalwart conviction to return to her land, she simply said, “I like it out here.”


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