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Lincoln native survives brush with tornado in Oklahoma

Lenita Mazer was in her second story apartment in Moore, Okla., at 2:45 p.m. Monday when she heard the ominous sound of tornado sirens.

The 1981 Brookhaven High School graduate recalled the 1975 tornado that roared through Lincoln County taking with it five lives.

But she was not prepared for what her prairie home since 2005 was soon to encounter.

News reports indicated that Mazer was directly in the path of the huge storm. As she looked out her window, she noticed the large super-cell cloud moving in her direction, she decided to take flight.

Mazer hopped in her car and drove south, where she thought she could escape the twister’s path. What Mazer didn’t realize at the time was that she was headed directly into the raging windstorm.

As the hail began to beat down on Mazer’s car, and the rain became blindingly heavy, she opted to take cover under the awning of the 7-Eleven on Telephone Road and Southwest Fourth Street in Moore.

She noticed a group of people huddled inside the store seeking shelter, but she remained in her car.

The rain and hail soon subsided, prompting Mazer to continue towards her perceived path of safety.

As she drove away she watched as the lights flickered and the power shut down at the store – an image that continues to resonate in her mind.

Mazer made it to safety despite her precarious escape route.

The same cannot be said for those who remained in the 7-Eleven.

“It said 3:11 p.m. on my clock radio when I was pulling out,” Mazer said. “That store was destroyed at 3:15 p.m.”

Among the 24 lives claimed that treacherous day in Moore, three of them were found in the rubble of that same 7-Eleven.

“It really gives you a sense of mortality,” Mazer said. “My loss is minimal; my sense of security is gone, but that’s going to take some time to heal.”

Mazer luckily escaped with her life, and her apartment was mostly spared of damage, but the destruction throughout her neighborhood is catastrophic.

“You can see pictures on TV,” Mazer said. “But when you see it in real life and it’s your community, it’s a whole different ball game.”

“It’s a surreal scene,” she continued. “When I saw the destruction, I just sat down and cried. It’s unbelievable.”

However, hope in the midst of adversity can be found in Moore as survivors begin to heal from Monday’s tragedy, an attitude Mazer has adopted as a recently claimed Okie.

“Oklahoma has a tendency to take things in stride and pick up. That’s all you can do.”

Yet she is grateful for the outreach and compassion she has received since the storm from people back in her hometown of Brookhaven.

“Thank you for being my family,” she said. “Thank you for still being there for me.”