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Jeremy Hefner's heart goes out to his hometown after Oklahoma tornado

Jeremy Hefner delivers a pitch during a game

Jeremy Hefner delivers a pitch during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. (May 18, 2013) Credit: Getty

News of the deadly Oklahoma tornado literally hit close to home for Mets pitcher Jeremy Hefner, who was watching television coverage of the devastating twister in the clubhouse before Monday night's game.

"I have an uncle that lives in Moore and cousins that live in Moore," Hefner said of the Oklahoma City suburb where the storm's 190-mile per hour winds did most of their damage. "So when I heard that it was in Moore again, I was freaking out."

He received assurance that all his family members and friends were OK. But he was rattled to learn his former elementary school was one of the buildings leveled. Hefner was born and went to high school in Perkins, Okla., north of Oklahoma City, but lived for 10 years in Moore. His grandmother, he said, still lives on the south side of Oklahoma City, which abuts Moore.

He said he was praying for the dead and injured, with special thoughts to the children. "Gut-wrenching, unfathomable," he said.

"It seems like every year, dinner time, you see the clouds rolling in and you know there might be a tornado. There's a certain sense of looking out the window and actually seeing it coming. It's part of the culture and you get used to it. You know what to do; you seek shelter underground."

And he has no plans of uprooting his offseason home in Tulsa. "Once you've lived there and you're part of the community and the atmosphere of Oklahoma, you don't want to leave. I come here during the season to play and love my time in New York," he said, "but that's where my home is. That's where my heart is."

Durant, OKC: $1M each The Oklahoma City Thunder is giving $1 million for tornado relief, matching a $1-million pledge by star player Kevin Durant.

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