Re: Oklahoma City Tornados
From my FB:
Wanted to share some thoughts about my city and my state. None of what I'm about to say comes as a revelation or surprise; it was simply (resoundingly) reinforced this week.
One of my favorite things about this place is that Okies are people of action. No sitting around waiting for someone else to take said action. No meetings or committees required to start making decisions. Just action.
This action started Sunday after the first round of storms leveled some rural/smaller areas. And then it really kicked in about 30 minutes prior to the monster that leveled Newcastle, Moore, and parts of the south side.
Start with the meteorologists. When storms like this form; minutes matter. Minutes save lives. They started watching the cell gather steam and they immediately warned that it had powerful potential. Then, most people were given a 15-20 minute warning of what was coming and what to do. They made it very clear that this tornado was so large that it was time to run instead of cover unless you were underground.
When I saw the pile of mangled cars along I-35, I just figured most of those people died. But what we've learned is that those cars were not occupied, because in a matter of 15 minutes, the police were able to evacuate that entire stretch of the interstate and get the people to shelter. Obviously, the warnings from the meteorologists led to the police knowing where to go and how long they had to do it. Teamwork in action.
The teachers and faculty at the schools sprung into action. Taking children to the safest possible places and in many instances shielding them with their own bodies. Similar stories from the hospital where doctors and staff took care of patients before, during, and after the direct hit.
Once the tornado had passed and left it's carnage behind, first responders immediately took action. Incredible stories of heroism and bravery as people ignored their own leveled homes and rushed to check on their neighbors.
What has happened in the hours and days following this tornado is nothing short of remarkable. The organization and mobilization started within an hour of the storm passing. FB was abuzz that night with people sharing info on what was needed and it has continued throughout the week.
On Tuesday morning there were lines of cars at the TV stations waiting to donate money and supplies. They line for volunteers to help at the sites was actually TOO long---so many people streamed to assist the recovery that officials had to ask people to stay away because it was causing too much congestion.
Local business shifted gears and turned their attention to how they could aid the cause. Restaurant owners bringing food, clothing stores collecting and supplying, etc. Local radio stations allowed people to call in and spread the word on what was needed most and where. Same thing throughout social media. No council gathering required. Just go.
Some of our wealthiest and most famous citizens pledged huge sums of money and made a hands-on impact with their presence. The Thunder organization was out in force as were several members of the OKC Blazers. The University of Oklahoma also took swift action opening their dorms and cafeteria to people who lost their homes. And people were wide enough to realize that OU was going to need help, so they began to mobilize various services down in Norman.
Everything is being covered. Dozens and dozens of vets, shelters, and private citizens have taken in animals or are helping to collect supplies and try to reconnect people with their pets. There is a van collecting photos in the debris in hopes that people will be able to recover some of their most precious personal items.
We heard last night that some of the rural areas needed more help and supplies. I didn't know where Carney was before today, but we loaded up and headed that way---when we got there it was clear the message had been received. The local church was collecting all variety of items with the help of volunteers. Their shelves were filling up. The ladies working the supply line were courteous and grateful, but also all business. Just getting it done.
Fund raisers have already spring up. Some events have already taken place --we're talking 72 hours after the storm. Amazing. It appears Okies have taken "love thy neighbor" to heart.
People across all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds have acted with urgency and compassion. They have also acted with extreme efficiency which is invaluable in this type of situation.
Society functions at it's highest and most heartwarming level when people choose to take care of each other. I am not diminishing the contributions of FEMA, the Red Cross, the Guard, etc. All of those organizations are playing a vital role and are needed. But there is more of US than there is of them; and I am so proud of my city and state for recognizing that.
We lost 24 people. Each one is a tragedy; especially the children. And if you knew or loved any of those people what I am about to say will ring hollow; but I find the 24 number shockingly low based on the devastation that storm caused. One scientist said the power from the storm surpassed that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. My heart breaks for the 24 and their loved ones. One is too many for certain. But the fact that there weren't many, many more is miraculous.
You have 15 minutes to tell the entire city what to do: Go. You have 15 minutes to get everyone off the interstate: Go. You have 5 minutes to get an entire school to safety: Go. People need to be rescued now: Go. People need food and water: Go. We need the animals off the streets: Go. Go, go, go.