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Oklahoma resident Tunnell reflects on tornado


MILWAUKEE -- Brewers bullpen coach Lee Tunnell has lived in Oklahoma City for the last 11 years, and knows enough about the town to know its residents will band together in the wake of Monday's devastating tornado.

Tunnell and his wife, Bea, live on the northwest side of Oklahoma City and were spared damage from the devastating tornado that ripped through schools, homes and businesses further south. According to the Associated Press, the death toll from the storm stood at 24 as of Tuesday afternoon.

"For us, mostly good stories, though we have some friends who have damage to their house. Nobody hurt," Tunnell said. "Our hearts go out to them. But the feel of Oklahoma City is that people will do whatever they need to do to help somebody, and I think a lot of that has to do with the tornadoes. They know it might be me next. It's a very helpful, neighborly place -- maybe one of the most neighborly places I've been."

He knows Moore, Okla., well the area hardest hit by the storm. A friend of a friend is the principal of Plaza Towers Elementary School, where children were pulled from the rubble in the aftermath of the storm.

Bea Tunnell and the youngest two of the couple's three daughters endured two rounds of storms on Sunday and Monday. They were with Lee for the Brewers' series in St. Louis, and were delayed in Tulsa, Okla., on the way home Sunday night, then got home to Oklahoma City a few hours before the tornado struck.

"My daughter's fiance's family, they live on a couple of acres and their barn got hit and all of their neighbors' houses got hit, and theirs wasn't," Tunnell said. "That's a whole separate set of emotional things to deal with. … Another of our friends' son works in a credit union right on the Interstate, and they put all of the people in the bank vault. That was about the only thing left of the building, but they were all safe in there.

"We're praying for the people there constantly at this point, the parents of the kids and the people [affected]. It makes you see thunderstorms in a different way."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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