ELK CITY, Okla. - The tornado never touched Danny Ringer’s home, but the firefighter and pastor feels pain from every damaged home he drives past.
“You feel responsible for every one of them,” he told NewsChannel 4, driving through the damage. “It makes me want to cry. It breaks my heart because these are people that I’m close to.”
The fire department estimates at least 100 homes suffered the wrath of Tuesday’s twister, mostly in a neighborhood near a golf course — a course Ringer played on just days prior.
“Honestly, I’m 54 years old and grew up here,” he said when asked if he could recall another tornado. “I don’t remember it being like this.”
Firefighters delivered food and water Wednesday as neighbors pitched in, patching roofs and clearing debris.
“The great thing about western Oklahoma is we’re all partners,” Ringer said. “These are just times when people pull together.”
At Currell’s Do-It Center, business was steady from the moment the dust settled after the storm.
“We stayed open until approximately 1 o’clock last night,” said owner Shonda Currell. “Five-thirty is our typical closing time but we knew that if people had problems that we were here to help them.”
The store sold flashlights, generators and sheeting, making runs to its other stores to ensure supply kept up with demand.
“We’re here and we’re part of the community and it hurts me to see these people hurting,” Currell said. “And we’re proud to be from Elk City.”
That pride is evident in Danny Ringer, driving around the damage, even as he sees so many of his friends’ homes damaged.
In the wake of destruction, he still sees progress, even with more storms in the forecast.
“You just can’t imagine what it looked like yesterday,” he said. “This looks ten times better."
“You don’t get a chance to handle a storm,” he said. “The storm’s going to come tomorrow night and so we’re going to have to face this. And so the people are pulling together and helping each other.”