Oklahoma Cornwell dealer survives tornado as recovery begins

Shane Sutton will never forget May 20, 2013. That was the day that tornadoes destroyed homes, buildings and many lives in parts of Oklahoma. While he's assessing the damage done in the community, he's grateful that his own home was spared and he, his wife and young daughter are alive and well.

"We were lucky," said Sutton, a Cornwell Tools dealer based in Moore, Okla., a suburb that experienced come of the worst devastation from the hurricane that claimed many  lives, including nine children. "We were real lucky."

Sutton was busy servicing his route on Monday afternoon and his wife was at work in downtown Oklahoma City when the tornado struck. "I saw the tornado," he said. When he saw the tornado, he thought about his daughter who was at day care. He wasted no time heading to the day care center, but the roads were closed before he could even get close.

Sutton parked his truck and started walking. He walked past numerous buildings that were destroyed with debris visible in all directions. When he finally reached the building, the building was damaged but his daughter was healthy and safe. The children had been moved to a "safe room" in the building and no one was hurt. Sutton's fears were gone.

It took him three hours to get home due to the blocked streets and the heavy traffic. When he and his daughter finally got home, the electricity didn't work, so he was unable to watch TV or connect to the Internet. However, he was able to connect to the Internet on his truck and use his phone.

As recently as Tuesday, power had not yet been restored. However, roads were being cleared and repair crews were cleaning up the debris. Water has been gushing from broken fire hydrants. People were finding debris from as far away as Missouri in their yards from the tornado.

At this writing, power had not been restored to many buildings, and Sutton was not yet able to contact some customers. He is unsure how many of his customers sustained serious damage.

"There are a lot of people missing," Sutton said. "I've never seen so many police, ambulances and fire trucks in my life."

Customers and friends from out of town have been calling since the tornado struck to make sure he and his family are all right.

Sutton expects his business will suffer from the destruction, but right now, everyone in the community is more concerned about locating the missing people.