Oklahoma Devastated by Tornado

The EF5 tornado approaching Moore (courtesy of the Seattle Intelligencer)

I confess to being a little behind in writing about the terrible tornado that tore through Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, but there have been some new developments that warrant mentioning.

The twister—which has just been classified as an EF5, the strongest tornado category measured by the National Weather Service—tore through the small town (population 55,000) on Monday. Winds in excess of 200 miles per hour turned homes into rubble as the mile-wide tornado destroyed everything in its 17-mile path.

According to the latest reports, 24 people are dead and countless others were injured in the freak storm. Nine of the victims were children caught in Plaza Towers Elementary School when it collapsed. Initial reports indicated that they drowned in the school basement, but these were recently proven to be incorrect.

Not that this makes it any better, of course.

Financially, the state of Oklahoma can expect a damage bill in the ball park of $1 billion. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is on the scene, but even their resources may not be enough.

“We got full allocation last year with the Sandy supplemental funds. We are looking to continue the response here as well as the previous disasters,” FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said recently. “But if we have another hurricane, we may need more money.”

And we all know how hard money is to come by these days. Yikes.

The damage to Moore was so bad that city officials even had to print new road signs so survivors and rescue workers would know where to go. Obviously, the town looks like little more than a war zone, as evidenced by the picture included here.

As horrible as this storm and its impact were, the only good things to come from this disaster were the stories of heroism as people struggled to protect one another.

At Briarwood Elementary School, for instance, teachers used their bodies to shield students from harm and even sustained injuries in doing so. Suzanne Haley was one of them and ended up being impaled by the leg of a nearby desk.

“We crowded the children under desks,” she said later. “And me and a fellow teacher put ourselves in front of the desks that the children were under.”

oklahoma-tornado-15.jpg

The devastation is hard to fathom (courtesy of Steve Gooch/AP)

In my opinion, Haley and everyone else who risked bodily harm to protect others deserve to be called heroes. Of course, she disagrees.

“It’s nothing anybody wouldn’t do,” Haley claimed in true hero fashion. “These children—we see their smiles, their tears, every day, in and out, and we love them.”

Mother Nature can be an evil bitch sometimes. And we will always have to deal with natural disasters like the one in Oklahoma. That’s life and some things are simply beyond our control.

However, the one thing that we can control is how we react and respond to situations like this one. And based on what I’ve read and heard, the people of Moore are doing the best they can in a situation that many of us will be lucky to never experience. But they still need help.

If there is anything you can do to lend a hand to these folks, please consider doing so. Donations can be made directly to the American Red Cross by going here. And since every little bit helps, I hope you will join me in donating something to aid in the recovery. If you’re hesitant, though, please remember this:

What if it happened to you?

Posted on May 22, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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