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Published May 22, 2013, 09:24 AM

Oklahomans witness tornado from North Dakota oil patch

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — People from Moore, Okla., who were working in the North Dakota oil patch when a tornado devastated their city say waiting for word on whether their families were safe was a stressful time.

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — People from Moore, Okla., who were working in the North Dakota oil patch when a tornado devastated their city say waiting for word on whether their families were safe was a stressful time.

Monday's tornado killed at least 24 people, destroyed countless homes and flattened an elementary school, killing seven children inside.

Liz Lillard, a contract pilot who flies workers to and from North Dakota for Hiland Partners of Enid, Okla., was in Williston on Monday and watched live video of the tornado pass over her children's day care in Moore.

"It's the worst feeling in the world to watch a tornado go over your two kids and there's nothing you can do about it," she told The Forum newspaper.

Phone lines were down, meaning it took two hours for Lillard to learn that her 2-year-old son and 7-month-old daughter were safe in a storm shelter.

"It was torture," she said.

Hiland wasn't scheduled to fly workers to Oklahoma until Tuesday, but they decided to return early so Lilland could reunite with her family Monday night. The family's home is "actually in pretty good condition," even though houses as close as three doors down were leveled, Lillard said.

Jason Kindred, who works as a consultant for Statoil in Williston, also is from Moore and was working in North Dakota on Monday when the tornado hit his town.

"It was very stressful being 1,300 miles away from my wife and kids," he said.

Kindred, an employee of MLB Consulting, started driving to Oklahoma and made it to the South Dakota border before he received a text message that his wife and two children, ages 11 and 4, were safe.

Kindred's family was in an above-ground storm shelter at his daughter's school not far from the tornado's path.

"It basically wiped out everything across the street from where they were at," he said.

Several oil and gas companies that operate in the western North Dakota oil patch have strong ties to Oklahoma.

Employees of Continental Resources, which is headquartered in Oklahoma City, began collecting donations Tuesday and volunteering with relief efforts, spokeswoman Kristin Miskovsky said. The company will set up a fund for friends and family affected by the tornado and donate to the Red Cross, she said.

ONEOK Partners and ConocoPhillips were among companies that announced major contributions to relief efforts. Spartan Engineering, a company founded by a North Dakota native, said it planned to donate through the Pipe Liners Club of Tulsa.

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