crazydiamondsue: (OK State of Mind)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] stoney321 for updating everyone we were okay after the destructive tornado in south Oklahoma City yesterday. My phone was blowing up all day and night and I wasn't in a great frame of mind. Eddie, Jonah, our fur babies and our house are fine. We live in inner city north, about 3 miles from downtown, which is usually pretty safe from the storms.


Eddie took this week off to work on his Qualifying Exams for his PhD program. Jonah got out of school yesterday at 11:30 (his last day is Friday) and we were all home together. There was tornadic activity Sunday (it was actually the scariest at our house on Sunday, with the yellow sky and the whipping trees) that hit OKC's northern suburb, Edmond, and did some damage, as well as the town of Shawnee to east of OKC. We were all staying home to avoid the weather and watching the local news to keep up. We saw the funnel cloud touch down in Newcastle (town of around 8,000 immediately to the southwest of OKC). The area it hit is pretty rural, so we were expecting the typical torn up treeline and downed powerlines to result.

But Eddie and I watched as it grew from a funnel into something I'd never seen before. A two-mile wide tornado doesn't look two-miles wide as it crosses the country side -- it looks like a horizon eater. OKC has developed state-of-the-art doppler radar over the years (we've had to) and we have people who come from all over the US to train as meteorologists and storm chasers. Our weathermen might have "Boy howdy, y'all," accents, but they're all the absolute top of the field -- you have to to work here. So when they said this enormous tornado was heading straight toward I-35 south (runs from OKC to Dallas) and into downtown Moore, OK (OKC's southern suburb of over 50,000 people), Eddie and I were holding hands and praying.

Moore was devastated in 1999 by the May 3 tornado. As many of you have probably seen on TV, this tornado followed pretty much the same trajectory. The May 3 tornado was actually a series of tornados, yesterday's storm was a two mile wide fucking wall of destruction.

While Eddie and I don't live on the southside of the city, we do shop there and we visit the gorgeous art deco Warren Theatre. It stood up to the storms yesterday and became triage. The hospital where my friend Jen works part-time (next to the Warren) was leveled. That was the hospital where I first heard Jonah's heartbeat. Whole business districts and neighborhoods are gone. Thankfully, everyone that we are close to and most of the people we know personally have checked in, safe and sound. Several are unable to get into their neighborhoods to check on their homes and pets. Some haven't heard from their parents or other family members.

My friend Angie, whom some of you may remember is the mother of Braden that I watched when Jonah was a baby, missed losing her home by two blocks and her father-in-law spent the storm in the vault of a credit union that was leveled. It took 4 men to keep the locked vault door closed against the storm. His truck was destroyed and his home damaged, but he is okay. It took Angie over 4 hours to make it home taking the back roads and detours.

People are trapped in their neighborhoods and the National Guard and others are working to get them out to shelters that have opened up. People are unable to get into their neighborhoods to see if their home is still there and if their pets are safe. There is no power or water in Moore.

Moore's population has actually risen since the 1999 tornado. Why? Because initially, it was more cost effective to buy in Moore (south side of OKC is the "poorer" side of OKC, traditionally) than it was to buy in OKC's northern, more affluent suburb, Edmond. Over the past 10-15 years, Moore has grown immensely in young families because of neighborhood developments and excellent schools. It has lower crime than OKC and better property values. In 2012, CNN ranked Moore #77 in a list of America's 100 best small cities to live in. I say that because I saw a lot this morning in comments to news reports wondering why people would live there. For the same reason people live in areas with the possibility of hurricanes, mudslides, wildfires, floods and earthquakes. It doesn't happen every day, and we make the gamble that it won't happen again.

What made this particular tornado so horrific is that, despite doppler and forewarning, people took shelter in typically "safe" areas: basements, interior rooms, storm shelters and some were drowned or buried under rubble. This is a monster storm -- this has freaked Oklahomans out, and we're used to seeing the funnel cloud touch the ground. One of the most demoralizing events, of course, is the seven known children who were lost in Moore's Plaza Tower Elementary school. The tornado struck at 3:15, as they would have normally been getting out of school during the last week of classes.

Oklahomans are used to rebuilding. We have an infrastructure for disaster forged in the 1995 federal building bombing and the F-4 tornadoes we've been hit by in the past 15 years. But it knocks us to our knees to lose people, and to have children in danger. I got a text last night from a friend out of state who asked if I'm not afraid to live here. Healthy fear of tornadoes? Sure. I respect nature, and I respect how much weather patterns have changed in the past 20 years. But I heard on OKC's NPR affiliate this morning that the newsrooms and churches and shelters of OKC are flooded with donations of water and diapers and energy bars and gloves and trashbags. That is why I never fear for Oklahoma. I've lived through my share of horrible days here, and we are nothing but big damn heroes in the face of disaster. And I live in the United States of America, and I know as I type this, donations are pouring in from the west and east coast, north and south. I know that wheels are on the ground with help coming in from Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. Because it's what we *do* and it's what makes days like today seem just a little less dark, no matter the forecast.

If you'd like to help, www.feedthechildren.org/tornado is great local source, the Red Cross as always, and if you'd like to do something fannish, I can personally vouch for SPNFamily Fundraiser through Winchesterbrothers.com, which has already raised over $400 for the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma: SPNFamily donation.

Love to you guys, thanks for those who have sent emails and messages.
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