May 22, 2013 – I live in Norman, Oklahoma. As you may have read, our neighbors nine miles to the north were just hit with a devastating tornado. I am speaking of the May 20, 2013 tornado in Moore, OK. This tornado had winds higher than 200 miles per hour and was as wide as two miles in some portions of the 40 minutes and 20 miles it remained on the ground. Our weather channel issued a tornado emergency, which is rarely used. This was issued with the warning that if you could not get underground, death was likely. Watch and you can easily understand why this issue to the public was given.
Moore, OK is famous for two other storms:
May 3, 1999 – in which the storm was declared an F5 tornado with winds that reached 318 miles per hour, or the fastest winds ever recorded on planet earth. Over $2 billion in damages resulted. This 2013 storm will most likely surpass this.
May 8, 2003 – yet another major tornado swept through the town.
Tornadoes are a fascinating weather phenomena, yet one you only wish to view from a distance. I was close to one in 1986 in Edmond, OK. Edmond was also struck on the May 19, 2013 storm. What I saw in the 1986 storm boggled my mind. I saw a 2″ by 4″ lumber stud lodged into a tree, with no damage on either end. Tornado’s can turn the ordinary household item into a missile. My friend in Edmond captured this funnel cloud as it was forming over Edmond on May 19, 2013. He too was present in the 86 storm and now another one in 2013. Soon this storm went over I-35 and became more powerful, finally to level Carney, OK.
Many of you might ask, why live there? No matter where you live on earth, you have the risk for some form of major catastrophe. It is just the violent nature of the world we live in. Our state has many great qualities. It is part of the bread belt of America. It is the nation’s wind corridor producing new alternative sources of energy. It has vast reserves of oil and natural gas. Tornadoes do not happen everyday.
But for me it is the people. The people of Oklahoma are tough, but caring individuals. On May 20, parents lost children and some children lost parents. We all lost neighbors and neighborhoods. Did we lose our faith or our determination? I surely hope not. I hope those effected by the storms have found comfort from those they do not even know and that generosity overwhelms them. This is a moment of tragedy, but also a moment for the display of the finest qualities of being human; to recognize that we are all part of one family, trying everyday just to survive. Most of the times these people we do not know ask no favors from us, but today without asking, we must give back and reflect what if we had traded places?
This tornado began near Newcastle, the sirens went off in my neighborhood, as they had 5 times the night before. Could this have been me and my family? Yes, it could have been. This is why I take not a single moment for granted. Today is not about me, my feelings, or my needs. It is a day of the needs of others, those that I may have religious or political differences, yet today they have the very basic human needs of food, shelter and clothing. Will we come to the call for aid of the human family? I cannot speak for others, but I must offer something, even if it’s just money to buy a blanket or a toy to calm the nerves of very scared child. They will forever be changed. Events in our lives have a way of giving us deeper reflections of life than what the media focuses on.
Next month I turn 54. Those 54 years have flown by, but they are flying faster now than ever before. Yes we suffered a tragedy, but it is also a learning moment that can have a positive impact on our lives. Take nothing and no one for granted. Bury your hatreds in the piles of the torn neighborhoods and be reborn to the needs of others. When you reach out and help another, you will receive blessings in return. Soon admiration for you will grow and in the hour of your greatest need, those blessings will be returned. We have suffered a setback, yet the fallen will rise again.