Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Moore Tornadoes

I was planning on posting about the Elementary finale. I still will do that, but it will be a separate blog post.

This is just my impression of today- what happened to me, what I did, what I have heard. I may have heard facts wrong or misinterpreted things. I was not in the tornado, this is not a survivor's account.

I live in Norman, which is the town south of where the big tornado hit today. Moore has been struck by several tornadoes in the last 14 years, the last big was on May 3, 1999. This was before I moved back to Oklahoma, but I have always had family here, so I was aware of it. That tornado was hugely devastating to much of the same parts of Moore as the tornado today.

I was not in danger today. The storms that were tornadic were to the north or the south of me.

Yesterday, I was in danger, but I took precautions when the activity got close to me. For those who do not know, tornado precautions are: get into the smallest, sturdiest room of your house. If you can, cover yourself with a mattress or something else soft, to keep glass from harming you.

My safe place is my bedroom closet. I pulled everything out of the floor and gathered all the pets I could grab (two of my cats had a fight and hid in cabinets, but I had to hunker down). I grabbed a blanket. Our closet is full of clothes and I planned on pulling them all down if I heard anything drop on the house. I sat in a closet with the dogs and Bats until the radio told me I was safe. The rotation that threatened me eventually did drop a tornado, but it had moved east of my town by then.

Today, a tornado absolutely devastated Moore. My father-in-law works in Moore as a postman, and when we texted him after the tornado he texted us back immediately- we knew he was all right as soon as we asked. But when we texted my husband's mother, she informed us that the tornado had hit the post office, and it's very likely that my FIL's car was completely destroyed- another car in that lot was completely gone, and the others were totaled.

The highway was closed, and we had no idea how we were going to get to him. My MIL was not driving- she was too upset to drive, really. My husband drove her car and she directed us through some of the smaller back roads. We got to almost where my FIL was, but we were on the other side of the highway, in gridlocked traffic. We parked in a parking lot and walked over the bridge.

We were on 19th street, which is near the big Warren Theater that was hit (but, again, on the other side of I35 from it.) The Warren had been hit, and looked bad. A lot of the cars from the parking lot were tossed into the highway. There was a lot of debris all over everything- little wads of mud covered cars, buildings, the road. Tiny bits of trees, mud, hay, and peoples lives covered everything.

The power was down, there were officers everywhere directing traffic. We crossed several intersections and ran across the bridge. We were in the middle of a crosswalk when an ambulance came bombing up the exit ramp, and we had to haul ass to dodge them. I could smell smoke from a fire, my MIL saw the plume of smoke.

My FIL was fine, he was apparently nowhere near the path of the tornado. He hid in a school and then finished delivering his mail before going back to the post office. He couldn't get his vehicle back to the office due to traffic, so he had to park it and walk five blocks. Seeing him was good. We were all relieved, even though we knew he was all right.

Walking back, I was watching where I stepped carefully. There were baseball cards, some still in sleeves. Someone's collection. A torn corner of a picture (if it had been a whole picture, I would have saved it, but it was just a snatch of one). A muddy child's blanket. A star barrette. More baseball cards.

Someone got into a shouting match with the police directing traffic. He wanted to go straight, and the officer was insisting he turn. We told him to park his ass and walk. Don't know what he did.

The sound of sirens was never ending. We must have been passed by dozens of ambulances. We were right by the triage area, so that's to be expected.

When we got back, the phone and the internet and the tvs were all still down. We went to Walmart to get an antenna, but they didn't have any at all. A guy who was also looking for one said he had been everywhere in Norman, this was his last home. Radio Shack had a sign up, saying that they didn't have any.

We drove to the Walmart in Purcell, and they did have antennas. There was another couple buying antennas, trying to figure out how many they needed.

It's hard to watch the news, but it's hard to do anything else.

Oklahomans will turn out in droves to help. We always do. We're being told, right now, that they don't need anybody. If they did, I would be there, and not at home, watching the news.

Here is an excellent article about the tornado and it's context. It explains about tornadoes, Moore's tornado history, and more technical details about tornadoes and how they're formed.

Here is a collection of information on how to help the victims of today's and yesterday's tornadoes.

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