Local man sees uncle in photo of Oklahoma destruction - New York News

Local man sees uncle in photo of Oklahoma destruction

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PHOENIX -

A valley man, who has an uncle in the tornado zone who lost his home, found out his loved one was OK in an interesting way.

His name's James Ray. He's from Oklahoma, but lives here now. Wednesday night, while watching the news on TV, he thought he recognized a man in one of the pictures that flashed by.

"I thought that is him, I had to stop it and freeze it and get up on the TV."

When this picture flashed across James Ray's TV last night, he was startled. Turns out it was a picture of 75-year-old Gene Tripp, Ray's Uncle. The devastation behind him used to be the 10-acre farm and farmhouse Tripp built in Moore, Oklahoma.

"Realizing the devastation of everything that was around him, what I used to know as being his house and his property, and what used to be there was no longer there, it was just him and his chair," says Ray.

Ray was raised in the area of Oklahoma devastated by the tornado. He left to join the Air Force and now works at Luke AFB in Glendale.

He has been watching and worrying as the natural disaster unfolded in his hometown.

His uncle Gene told him as the tornado hit Moore on Monday, he went down into the storm cellar. Hours later he emerged unhurt to discover his farm and house gone. The only thing not destroyed was the rocking chair you see him sitting in in this picture.

"Just that picture alone it broke my heart," says Ray.

The picture ended up on the front page of the Oklahoman, a local newspaper, and was then picked up by other news outlets.

James says his Uncle Gene is a proud Oklahoman. This is not so much a picture of destruction, it is a picture of survival.

"With everything else gone, he's still standing. It didn't matter that there was nothing else there, he was still there."

Ray says his instinct is to return home to Moore, but he knows his uncle is now safe and is staying with Ray's sister in Oklahoma City.

Right now he says he will help from afar, and encourages everyone to give to the Red Cross and St. Mary's Food Bank locally, which is sending truckloads of food, water, and supplies to the area.

Oklahoma disaster relief
www.redcross.org/charitable-donations
www.firstfoodbank.org/


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