Once Again, Oklahoma Asks: 'Why Us?'

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OKLAHOMA CITY: Paul Heath had been through this sort of fury before. On Monday, when he heard the tornado warnings, he headed for a refuge he knew about all too well: the still-intact underground garage below what was once the Alfred P. Murrah federal building. Heath had been five floors up from that spot when man-made rage had struck there four years ago, and yet, he told the Associated Press, "I felt safe there." His house survived the storms unscathed. On Tuesday, another man sifted through his rubble in front of the CNN cameras and found a copy of the movie "Twister." It, too, was unscathed. But after 76 twisters in five states, not much else was -- 44 are dead, hundreds injured and some 2,000 homes and businesses razed by winds that topped 260 miles an hour, stripping bark from trees and grass from the ground. And Oklahoma City sits shell-shocked again, amid painful memories and sharp ironies. Nothing to do now but clean up.

President Clinton has already declared 11 Oklahoma counties to be federal disaster areas -- he'll be by for an empathetic tour on Saturday when he returns from Europe. Between politicians' visits, everyone else in Oklahoma City is being kept very busy -- all over again. Belinda Bentley of the Heartland Rescue Care Team told the AP that many of the businesses that have donated food and supplies are the same ones that helped out after the 1995 bombing. "Once again, it's Oklahoma," she said, "and we're all working together."