I don’t even know what to think as I scan Twitter updates, watch news blips, read newspaper interviews, and scour Instagram photos of the destruction Monday’s tornado left in its wake in Moore, Oklahoma. It literally makes me feel sick that children perished due to a force of nature. It seems that somewhere in our nation, people are constantly trying to rebuild and restart from the destruction a natural disaster has left behind, when another one comes along and throws another town, city, or state into panic and devastation.
I literally cannot imagine.
The closest I have ever come to experiencing a tornado was when this storm was filmed just weeks before I graduated from college. My sorority sisters captured this clip that was later featured on the local news:
This tornado tore across Virginia and parts of neighboring states, causing damage at random. I was home alone, and I was crouched in my living room two apartment buildings closer to the storm than where the video was taken. My apartment was on the first floor of the building, but elevated about six feet off the ground. I considered taking my roommate’s cat to wait out the storm in my bathtub after golf ball-sized hail pounded the cars and porches surrounding me, and a clap of thunder occurred so loudly and so suddenly I thought our glass porch doors were going to shatter. In the end, I waited out the storm in our living room, clutching the cat for dear life and praying that the storm wasn’t as severe as it sounded. Because the windows and the porch of our apartment faced the building across from it and away from where the tornado was forming, I couldn’t have known the storm was as intense as it was. I should have known that danger was imminent when I turned on the television to check the local weather report, but all that greeted me was static on every channel. The fear that I experienced that day and the uncertainty of what was happening were the closest I have ever come to a tornado.
As I think back now to the prayers I said for my family and friends, and as I discussed the event later with my friends and sorority sisters, I truly cannot imagine the fear and the sadness that the residents of Moore are experiencing now. I read in the newspaper this morning that the mother of six-year-old twins who survived the tornado was quoted as saying, “If you don’t believe in God before something like this happens, you sure do after.” Truer words were never spoken. My deepest thoughts and prayers go out to those individuals, families, students, teachers, rescue workers, paramedics, school staff, and relatives of those grappling with what has happened to Moore. While so many across the nation are asking themselves, How could God let something like this happen?, I am trying to focus on the bravery of the search-and-rescue teams who have worked tirelessly for two days; the families who may be living out of shelters but who have a positive outlook for their future; the teachers whose courage and quick thinking saved the lives of countless children; the strangers who have banded together to form impromptu communities of survivors; and those whose thoughts and actions spared the lives of others, even if their own were not saved.
Please, even if you are not a religious or spiritual person, take a moment today to think about Moore, Oklahoma, and all that we are blessed to have and that we take for granted each and every day.