OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (May 12, 2010) – The softball-size hail slamming into Paul Cunningham’s roof on Sunday “sounded like explosions,” he said.
The gargantuan hail was part of a storm system that spawned at least six tornadoes and killed several people in the Oklahoma City area. Many homes and buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged. The accompanying photo first appeared in the Oklahoma City Oklahoman newspaper, submitted by one of its readers.
Spokespersons for Evangelical Covenant Churches in the affected areas said no one in their congregations was seriously injured or had their homes demolished, but that many people had suffered heavy damage to their property.
Cunningham, pastor of Westmoore Community Covenant Church, said Tuesday that light shone through the holes in his punctured roof. He expected workers to arrive later in the evening to assess the damage.
Cunningham and his son were on the back porch when hail began to fall. “First it was like pebbles, then it got to be nickel-sized, and then the baseballs and softballs came down,” he said.
In addition to the heavy damage inflicted on the buildings, the hail also smashed windows of cars and left numerous large dents.
The wait for insurance adjusters will be long. Cunningham called his insurance company just two hours after the storm and was told adjustors could not look at his home until May 24.
Cunningham said he knew the tornadoes were going to strike. “There was just that smell and feel in the air,” he explained. “You could just see it brewing.”
Cunningham already is well acquainted with the terror tornadoes can instill. He and his family took shelter in a closet when a twister struck on May 3, 1999 – one of 66 across Oklahoma and Kansas – and ripped through their area, killing 36 people.
The house on one side of the Cunninghams was demolished, while the home on the other side was knocked off its foundation. The family’s home sustained damage, but was not destroyed.
“The weatherman said if you were upstairs, you’re going to die,” Cunningham recalled, but the family had not had time to reach the basement. Ironically, he has little fear of the storms since the terrifying incident.
Sunday’s tornado followed almost the same path as the one in 1999, Cunningham said.