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JC family swept up in OKC tornado scare

Buildings around softball team’s hotel damaged; JC disaster-relief truck turned around before storm hit

Some Jefferson City residents were in Oklahoma City when Friday night’s deadly tornado came through.

“It was crazy, but what a difference a day makes,” said Amy Berendzen, Capital Region Medical Center public relations director, on Saturday morning. Her family was in Oklahoma City on Friday night because her daughter’s softball team was scheduled to play in a tournament Saturday.

But on Friday afternoon, the Berendzens were attending the College Softball World Series, which also was in town.

“We were going to the College World Series, and it was sunny around 4 p.m.,” she said. “Then they evacuated the whole stadium so we went back to our hotel where the manager got everybody into the lobby. We had to stay out of our rooms for about two hours while the storm passed.”

Berendzen said they were told five tornadoes were within the vicinity of the hotel.

“Our power got knocked out, but the hotel is still standing,” she said. “An apartment building next door had roof damage and windows were blown out. A few blocks farther, one tornado touched down. I was told it was a good thing I didn’t know what all was going on because it was scary.”

Berendzen said none of the folks who came down for the tourney were hurt, and the team was to play Saturday afternoon.

“I feel so bad for these folks,” she said. “I get it that it happens here, but doggone it, this is scary stuff. I’m proud of all our girls, and how they handled the situation.”

Meanwhile, a truck loaded with relief supplies to help Moore, Okla., tornado victims had to turn around and come back to Jefferson City because of the Friday night tornadoes in Oklahoma City.

“We got to Joplin and had to turn back because there was no safe route to get into Oklahoma City,” said Pete Livingston, Concord Baptist Church executive pastor, who along with his wife, Debbie, helped organize the effort to collect the supplies. “We sat in Joplin for about an hour trying to figure a way, but the storms just sat there. Had we gone any further, there would have been no safe route out.”

Livingston said they got back to Jefferson City around 11:30 p.m. Friday.

NDN-Video

Video from inside Oklahoma tornadoes

“We talked to the church where we were headed to and they told us had we shown up they wouldn’t have had the people to help offload the supplies since so many of their volunteers were involved in trying to take care of their homes and families after Friday‘s storms.”

The Jefferson City Coca-Cola Bottling Company donated the truck and driver to take the items to Oklahoma, and Livingston said they would check with company officials on when they could reschedule the trip.

“We will offload and wait for word on when we can go back, because they need us now more than ever,” he said.

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