Anyone who does not live in central Oklahoma probably doesn’t understand the threat of tornadoes like the people who live with it each year. It seems that each year they get worse, the EF scale is red lined, and these terrible forces of nature flatten the homes of hundreds of families.
Last night we evacuated our home when the sirens started to blow and fled to a local church which has a basement. We stayed there for a short time until I received a phone call from my mother who had just been in an accident. I left my family at the church and raced to my elderly widowed mother who thankfully was not injured (neither was the other guy) but we waited for over two hours for a police officer because an EF-4 tornado touched down near Lake Thunderbird and then Bethel Acres, flattening the homes of many people.
School was cancelled today because so many families were affected by the tornadoes, and with power lines down in the road and families displaced, the buses would not be running. Our power was out for over 12 hours and we had to move all of our food out of our refrigerator and freezer so that we would not take a total loss in valuable groceries.
Today another tornado touched down in Moore taking out hundreds of homes in a suburban neighborhood and also destroying the Warren Theater where we see all of our IMAX films.
I do not, however, feel terrified or that I should move to a state without tornadoes. I myself have been near enough to see a funnel fall from the sky a few times in my life, and have even ridden along with college friends who were storm chasers. I am not an adrenaline junky or a daredevil, but tornadoes are a part of Oklahoma life. As the following map shows, Norman Oklahoma (where I live) has the greatest frequency of tornado activity in the nation.
All I know is that these disasters bring people together. Tonight we collected over 140 tooth brushes from a local dentist, will go through our clothes again and bring whatever we can donate to people who lost everything. Oklahoma people are tough, but we are also giving. We have had much disaster here, from the Oklahom City Bombing in 1995 to the May 3rd Moore tornado to the current disasters, but our people band together and show each other what true neighbors do for one another. It is a testament to the kindness of strangers (it still exists) and it is the reason that Oklahomans stay here and do not vacate the state.
This post is brief because I am watching the local weather as they assess the damage from tonight’s storms. If you pray, then pray for the children of Briarwood Elementary School because the twister went right through the middle of it and parents are frantically looking for their children. Fires are raging. Please ask for our rescue workers and our professionals who do such an amazing job. Also pray for our families displaced by this series of disasters.