Since most of the people who read this blog are friends of mine, you all know where I live. Most everyone who doesn't live under a rock knows what happened on Sunday and Monday. Something that happens when you live in this part of the country--tornadoes. Since then, I've seen all kinds of posts: from "what are they thinking..." to "why don't they..." to "don't mess with us". I'm here to tell you that people have all kinds of different perspectives when it comes to events like this. These are some that I've seen, some that are my own, and some that come from some wise friends of mine.
First, a little history....
I was born in Pueblo, CO, but I have lived 30 of my 35 years in Oklahoma (3 of the other 5, I lived in Kansas--another state in "tornado alley") so I have experienced my share of severe weather. Four tornado events have made an impact on my memories so I base most of my tornado knowledge on those. The first was when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. I do not know exactly when it was or how powerful. I know it hit in Ardmore, OK where we were gathered with another family in their hallway. Their daughter was dropped off from a school event, and she received a nasty gash on the head when she fell over a fence that had been flung into their yard. But, she did make it in safely, and their house did not sustain any damage.
The second tornado that made an impact on my life was on May 3, 1999. I lived and worked in Blanchard, OK at the time, and I watched the storm from the south as it tracked across the county. I had friend living in Bridge Creek, Newcastle, and Moore at the time, and it completely rocked our little communities. A young man that was a good friend stopped by my house a few days later. He had first aid training so he had volunteered in Bridge Creek, only to be put to work in the makeshift morgue. He stopped by to "talk" and tell me about some of the things he had seen, and he wept as he recounted the stories. Thankful that God had shown me this young man's heart, I married him the very next year :)
The third tornado was only two short years ago (on this very day). I blogged about it here. After a day with lots of kiddos at my house, I was left with only my four children. Thankfully, my father-in-law was also there to get into the cellar with me. Seeing the tornado headed straight for us, we locked the door, prayed and waited. When we emerged, we saw that it had taken a sharp right turn, missing us, but hitting our neighbors, friends, and family. It's hard to describe how we can be thankful that something so powerful missed us but still so very heartbroken about the devastation to those who we love. Those are amazingly complex emotions.
This last tornado has also made a profound imprint on my life. It dropped out of the sky just three short miles north of my Mom's house. Once again, that complex mix of thankfulness and sadness are flooding my home. We are close enough to be affected emotionally, but far enough that we weren't affected physically.
Now for the perspectives:
This is my home, where I grew up, and where I make my life now. I drive down the highway that first felt this monster on a weekly basis (my husband drives it on a daily basis.) As we follow its path, I see that it destroyed the place where my Mom used to work when we first moved to this town. I see that it narrowly missed the part of town where the Walmart, Braum's, my bank, the first place I held a job, and several other often highly populated areas (thankfulness, because it could have been so much worse.), but then it ripped through the homes that were sitting right behind those stores (sadness for those who were losing everything--possibly even loved ones.) I see that it ripped down the old bridge--the one that has stood for years, the one that we used to sneak onto when we would go out with the girls, the one that has been a landmark seemingly forever. I see that, as it passed over the current bridge, that it tossed cars off of it like they were children's toys. It's path traveled down 149th, "the shortcut to Moore", took out the farm where my daughter was at a field trip less than a week before (MAJOR thankfulness), and then it headed for more homes, one of which belonged to my very best friend, and still a list of others who lost their homes or sustained major and minor damage. It tore through schools, neighborhoods, a hospital, and the movie theater. It scattered debris along side streets, main streets, and across two major interstates. And then, it just spun out...fizzled...gone....as quickly as it came. And you turned around, and all you could see was destruction in its wake.
That is my perspective. How I saw it from the outskirts. I imagine that the feelings were magnified 100-fold for those who had to ride it out in the closets, cellars, hallways, bank vaults, and even cars racing out of its path. Minor damage or major damage, it would be absolutely terrifying to know that monster was heading in your direction. People will be insensitive, derogatory, and questioning; but the fact is, until you've been in that situation, you can't tell anyone else what to do. Yes, there are right things and wrong things, but sometimes the right things aren't available, so you have to do the next best thing. Just ask the teachers that did the best that they could, but still lost their students. Ask the family of the mother and child who sought shelter, but that shelter didn't protect them. Everyone in the state of Oklahoma knows that you shouldn't try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle (except the storm chasers, but that's a whole different story!), but when a vehicle is all you have to get you out of the storm's path, then you do what you have to do.
And you pray...
A school teacher is getting a lot of publicity for what she said about prayer in schools, but it's true. When a storm is bearing down on you, you pray. You pray OUT LOUD. You pray until it's over. And when it's done, if you're still around to pray, you pray some more. Period. At least, that's how we do it here, in tornado alley, where the storms come.