The massive tornado that devastated suburban Oklahoma City on Monday was followed closely by many in Harford County, as it was around the nation.

Krista Demcher, a Bel Air resident, who lived in Lawton, Okla., for five years while her husband was in the military, said she experienced a tornado practically as soon as she got there.

"The third day I was there, there was a tornado," she recalled.

A tree from her yard hit her neighbor's car, and Demcher had worried that their boxes, which were still waiting to be unpacked outside on the curb, had been strewn all over the place.

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That was when she learned that people in Oklahoma looked out for each other.

"I thought, oh, my gosh, there's going to be boxes and debris everywhere," she said. "These neighbors who I didn't even know were already out there picking it up for me."

"People really care about each other and want to help each other," she noted. "It's just a really great, warm, open kind of environment."

Demcher lived at Fort Sill, in Lawton, from 2001 to 2006 but traveled roughly 70 miles to Norman, near Oklahoma City, several times a week and knew some people in that area.

She said she instantly got on Facebook to make sure they were fine, and none of her acquaintances turned out to be in the path of the storm.

Major buildings in Oklahoma have storm shelters, and Demcher said she definitely felt like residents were prepared for most, typical tornadoes.

She and her husband were at the movies once when a tornado hit and they were taken to a storm shelter at the mall, she said.

"When we came out, it was kind of apocalyptic," she said.

Nothing she saw, however, compared to the massive tornado that hit the city Monday.

"It's just heartbreaking and it's just kind of crazy when you look at the videos and [imagine] trying to live through that," she said. "We had some smaller tornadoes and even that was terrifying."

Demcher watched the news as rescuers and ordinary residents came together to help pull students out of schools and help their neighbors and friends.

She said she is considering helping out with the relief efforts, without traveling to Oklahoma again.

"I just know that people there are going to rise up and do what they have to do to help and re-build," she said.

Hospital preparations

Upper Chesapeake Health officials regularly conduct drills at their local facilities, which include Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air and Harford Memorial Hospital Havre de Grace, to prepare for disasters similar to Monday's tornado, including a direct hit on one of the medical centers.

An evacuation drill was held at Harford Memorial Friday.