03 May 2012

Blue Skies

Never saw the sun shinin' so bright
Never saw things goin' so right
Noticing the days hurryin' by
When you're in love, my how they fly

Can I just say that I am soooo glad that soccer is over?  This week the only activity we had planned after work/school was Emi's choir concert the other night. And it was lovely. Emi got up and scatted while the choir was singing Blue Skies. My sweet little girlie...

13 years ago it was a different story for us...


On May 3, 1999 I was working on test procedures at the National Severe Storms Lab in the "tornado bait" trailer on North Campus. As I was wrapping things up for the day a concerned co-worker asked if I had a safe shelter to go to that afternoon because the weather was ripe for tornadoes. He showed me the radar image and there was a big red circle around Oklahoma. He knew that we didn't have a shelter and we had joked about me having to dive into a ravine for safety. I reassured him that I'd be at my father-in-law's office in the city and that we would probably be safer there than at home. My FIL is an optometrist and his office was located at 119th and Western.

On the way to the city I heard the weather warnings on the radio and I was getting a little panicked. When I arrived we turned on the TV in Scott's mom's office to have a look at the radar and hear what Gary had to say. Gary was telling us that if you weren't under ground, that you might not make it...to get underground now!

Me, my husband and his parents were huddled in a circle and praying because we didn't have time to do anything else. We thought this might be it for us and I fully expected to feel bricks from the building falling on our backs any second. The wind and noise got really loud outside and as the tornado passed (over/around) us, it sounded just like a freight train.  Somehow the building stayed intact and instead of being crushed to death, we found ourselves outside incredulously watching the tornado churning with debris over the nearby neighborhood... where my sister and her family lived. I had such a feeling of horror seeing that...

After the storm there was a eerie silence and darkness. I tried to called my sister immediately and there was no answer. We left my father-in-law's office to head towards their home but first we wanted to see if we could get through to my sister's neighborhood. There were power lines across the streets on Western so we couldn't drive through.  We were outside at Scott's parents house trying to get in touch with my sister and listening to the helicopters flying overhead. I imagined that this was what it might be like in the middle of a war at night.

We got a hold of my sister finally and after we confirmed that everyone we knew in the area was safe, we took the back way home (I-44) to Norman and headed straight to the Red Cross. We felt so helpless but we wanted to help so we gave blood. And then we went home (way out in the country by the lake back then) and rested. We got up early the next morning to head up to my sister's neighborhood and I remember it was pouring rain so hard that it was difficult to see. The National Guard turned us away and my sister's neighborhood was cordoned off to outsiders.

My sister's church was in a huge metal ball across the street from its original location. I took off work the next day to help clean up debris on her church property and I remember the mud and the mess and the smell.  No one tells you about the smells after an F5 tornado (or any tornado) hits. Even though there were no human casualties in the vicinity of her church, there were plenty of animal casualties and the smell of death was thick in the air. I heard they found a dead horse in the West Moore High parking lot after the storm.

My mom called from Florida a few days after the tornado after she'd seen the images of the truck wrapped around the tree on TV (and after she'd already confirmed we were safe) just to make sure we were really ok...again.

I feel very fortunate to have made it through such a historical meterological event unscathed (and another smaller event partially scathed). Did I ever mention that I survived Hurricane Camille?

Here's hoping for nothing but blue skies for a while...

4 comments:

  1. OH my word! that had my heart pounding reading about it. I can't imagine what you all were feeling. You did the best thing that anyone can do in a situation like that. God is so powerful and it sounds like he obviously protected you and your loved ones during this horriable ordeal.

    on another note. Glad you life will slow down a bit now that soccer is over and school is almost out. I have a feeling you already have many plans in the works.

    Hope you have a blessed day!
    Jackie

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    1. I am so hoping to be able to finish 11/22/63 this week with the slowdown and Mother's Day. I have been trying to carve out time to read because it's such a good book but I am interrupted by sleep and work and kiddos, etc. Hope you are rested up from your weekend! Can't wait to read about it!

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