The last 24 hours have been pretty crazy. I’m feeling fortunate. And heartbroken.
The image below shows just how close we were to the monster of a tornado that ravaged our town yesterday. The red line traces the center path of the tornado, the gray lines show how wide the tornado was. The orange star is our neighborhood. To give some perspective, it’s a mile between NE 12th and SE 4th, as well as between SE 4th and SE 19th. Our house is less than a half mile north of the route with the most destruction. Yikes.
Ben and I are grateful to have our lives and our home. We were on a flight from Boston to Dallas yesterday when the tornado struck. Thanks to JetBlue, I had DirectTV in my seat – and watched the whole thing on the Weather Channel. It was a horrifying experience. I’ve never felt so powerless. As we cruised at high altitude, I sat shaking and in tears, hearing them talk about road crossings and monuments that have meaning to me. I know these intersections and these businesses. This is my home, my town. I sat in sheer panic as the storm danced between SE 19th and SE 4th Streets, knowing that just enough of a shift in wind and direction could send this storm barreling toward my home. It wasn’t until later in the broadcast that they were able to clarify which neighborhoods had sustained the most damage. Thankfully, ours wasn’t one of them. When we landed in Dallas around 4:30 p.m., we were able to contact our neighbors who confirmed that our home was okay, and our dogs were safe. Ben and I were grateful for the many of you who checked on us – we appreciate your care and concern.
We gathered our bags and began driving north, dodging more severe storms on our route. Thanks to texts from friends, the National Weather Service – Norman Twitter feed, and smartphone apps, I was able to navigate us safely back home. As we approached Norman (10 miles south of Moore, and where I work), traffic began to slow and was rerouted. After a very, very long drive, we pulled in to our driveway around 10:30 p.m. Our home had no power and no water. We checked on the dogs, both showing signs of visible distress. I was so grateful they had been in our neighbors’ good hands while we were gone. Exhausted by our travels and the events of the day, Ben and I decided to sleep at the house and reassess our situation in the morning. We slept with some windows open, to allow for some ventilation. Throughout the night, I heard the moaning of construction equipment, wail of sirens, and helicopters flying over head. Many brave rescue workers toiled through the night, doing everything they could to aid those in need.
This morning, I drove to Norman. A friend offered her home to me so I could bathe and make myself presentable for work. On my journey, I saw so much debris and damage. Mangled cars were alongside the road – the damage was so severe and violent, it was hard to imagine how a vehicle could ever be wrangled into such a form. I listened to the radio, as people shared their experiences and the local newscasters gave updates on the situation. I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the heartbreak and sense of loss, and to be so profoundly grateful for my safety and protection.
It’s just awful. I’m sure many of your have seen the images of the wreckage. It’s amplified when you see it in person, and when it’s your town. These are the homes of my friends, coworkers, and neighbors. I’m proud to see the community coming together. There are many, many people who have lost loved ones, who have lost their homes, and those who are still waiting anxiously to hear if their loved ones have made it. People have lost their businesses, their life’s work. My town needs a lot of help. And I urge you to help us in any way you can. Here is a list of places that are taking monetary and material donations.
Our home remains without power and water. We have been given no indication as to when those services will return – I’m guessing it will be at least a week. Our temporary inconvenience is a lucky state compared to many. I am committed to helping my town through this, in whatever way I am able. I ask your prayers, good thoughts, and aid for the city of Moore, Oklahoma.