Every May there are sirens and every May there are tornadoes along with jokes about going back to sleep or watching the funnels from your front porch. Then there's that year when the interior closet or bathtub aren't any safer than standing out in the rain because the force that is moving over the earth is just eating everything up as it goes.
I've had texts and phone calls from my parents the last three Mays saying they were driving to the local hospital to get in the basement, waiting in lockdown at work, or running to the library just down the street from their home. They're Oklahoma natives but I think they've had more close calls since they've been in the OKC area than in all their years living further south. My dad texted me this video he took on Sunday, May 19th right after he and my mom ran to the library down the street from their house. They were just about to lock the doors when they arrived. This tornado went nearer to Edmond and did a little bit of damage to power lines and ripped trees out of friend's yards.
I remember feeling relieved that the damage was minor until getting a call from my mom saying Shawnee, the town where Brett and I spent six years during and after college, had been hit. We called our friends to check on them and were able to reach them but later learned a whole trailer park had been wiped out ending in two deaths and more injuries. I went to bed right after hearing there may be more storms Monday.
I had arrived at Sebastian's school for his end of the year party Monday afternoon when I got another text from my dad saying he'd left work early and that my mom was in lockdown at her school again and that a big one was headed to Moore. I sat in the hallway outside his class glued to the KFOR news app but then school was out and there were teacher gifts to give and books to sign and other mamas to hug. It was raining and the sky was moody and we sat in the car talking about his day when my dad texted asking if I'd seen anything about the school being hit. My heart sunk.
I sit here tonight with a heavy, heavy heart for the people in Moore that have been hit with yet another historic, devastating tornado but so much more for the families of those K-3rd graders and staff that have been the focus of all news stations. I really just can't imagine not being able to get to my kids or the agony of waiting to confirm whether they'd survived or not. My mama heart hurts for those families.
It's been mentioned on Twitter and in the news that you can help the towns of Shawnee and Moore as well as surrounding areas by donating to both local and national charities. Here's another list of places.
I drove through Joplin a few weeks after the destruction there and was surprised to still see volunteer tents with people handing out food and water to workers clearing debris from neighborhoods and commercial sites. I will never forget the feeling of driving down residential streets that I could tell had held 100 year old houses from the state of the foundations and not seeing a whole tree for blocks. Seeing the twisted metal of the roof of the sporting goods store, piles of shoes and clothes and belongings waiting to be claimed, stacks of crushed cars being gathered and removed from parking lots was haunting but I was so moved that people were still there working to rebuild.
Clean up is going to take weeks and recovery is going to take months for the families in the affected areas. Let's help in ways we can.