Cedar Park residents recall 1997 tornado

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by ANDREW CHUNG and PHOTOJOURNALIST DENNIS THOMAS/KVUE NEWS

Bio | Email | Follow: @AndrewC_KVUE

Andrew Chung

Posted on May 26, 2013 at 10:49 PM

Updated Monday, May 27 at 7:20 AM

CEDAR PARK, Texas -- For those who witnessed the tornado that hit Cedar Park on May 27, 1997, the memory is still fresh in their minds.

Edward Crozier has lived there for 24 years. He's from Des Moines, Iowa, so he's seen his share of tornadoes and the destruction they can cause. 

"I saw it coming - and - I was mesmerized, I guess, to stand there and watch it," he said.

The images from Moore, Oklahoma were nonetheless shocking for this tornado veteran. 

"It's terrible. It's just terrible, you know, the damage that it's [done]," he said. 

Joan Parker was at home after picking up her granddaughter from school when the Cedar Park tornado hit.

"We went out in the front yard, in the street, and looked, and saw it coming right towards us," she said.

Her home escaped damage and she wished that had been the case in Moore.

When asked about the destruction in Oklahoma, she said, "I just can't imagine losing a child - I was in tears the past two nights."

Central Texas, luckily, is on the tail end of Tornado Alley, so we do not see nearly as many tornadoes as our friends in Oklahoma unfortunately do. But for anyone who sees a tornado in the skies, like the people in Cedar Park back in 1997, the sight can be a frightening experience.

Gillis Bartles saw the tornado coming and took cover just in time.

"Just as it hit, the house began to shake a bit, and it was [a] terrible sound, and I opened up that door, and peeped out that closet just in time to see the blinds, the windows, glass, just explode," he recalled.

"What I saw...literally, was the most evil thing I've ever seen," said Bartles, choking up. “Evil personified.  Awesome force of nature."

Cedar Park Fire Chief James Mallinger went out into the community as it hit.

"When I was driving one of the fire trucks, I was on Park Street, and it actually hit the building beside me, and it sprayed the side of the fire truck with a little bit of wood and shingling," he explained.

Janelle Boatright went through the 1997 twister unharmed, but today, her heart,  like many others in Cedar Park, is in Oklahoma. 

“It just reminds me how lucky so many of us were, because the tornado we had was nothing compared with what they had there," she said.

"My heart aches for them. We had no problems at all here in Cedar Park compared to them. It's absolute devastation up there," said Bartles.

Sixteen years after the twister in Cedar Park, the city has healed, and sends a message of hope for Moore, Oklahoma. 

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