It’s 3:20 am and I can’t sleep. I can’t think. I can’t process.
I originally had a post scheduled for today talking about my baby shower this past weekend, and I planned to share that post today anyway in order to allow myself more time to process, but when I realized I couldn’t shut my mind down long enough to get more than a couple of hours’ rest – I decided to postpone it.
On Sunday, I was supposed to drive home to Oklahoma. Todd asked me on Saturday to stay in Texas long enough to bypass the storms. The meteorologists were talking about this line of storms as being some of the most severe conditions we would see this year. He didn’t want to worry about us being on the road and a storm firing up so quickly that we couldn’t take appropriate shelter.
I took his advice and instead decided to drive up yesterday morning, leaving by about 7 am to get out of my friend’s house before she left for work and to get home before any storms were likely to fire up. I’ve lived in Oklahoma for 22 years (and 7 in Texas) so I’m used to storms. I expected yesterday to be no different: about 3 or 4 pm to start seeing storms flare up, hail, high winds, and possibly a few tornadoes. Since Sunday was predicted to be so bad, I assumed that the worst of the lines were over and that we would be okay.
I ran to the store about 2 pm for a loaf of bread (and a few things) and came home an hour later to a news report that spoke of complete devastation.
An EF-4 (or likely an EF-5) tornado, up to 2 miles wide.
The part of Oklahoma I consider home. It was nothing to drive to the Warren theatres in Moore to watch a movie. In fact, it’s the only place we’ve went for years. I drive through this area every time I head up to my OB’s office for a check up. We eat here, shop here, and live life here.
Most importantly, my brother lives there.
As we watched the news, it became more apparent that it was pretty likely that the tornado hit my brother’s house. We prayed we were off the mark slightly, but then they started talking about the complete devastation at Plaza Towers Elementary school.
The green lines are the tornado’s boundaries (how wide the path was). The pink asterisk was the Plaza Towers Elementary School. The yellow? My brother’s house.
Thankfully my brother was at work and was completely unharmed, although this tornado was headed directly for his place of employment. Thank God it dissipated. I’ve been able to speak to him a couple of times and he is staying with his friend (whose house was missed by about 100 feet), and he is in good spirits. He’s been making jokes and we’ve been trying to make light of the situation (like negotiating how much my couch was worth — it was in his house).
But after I knew he was okay and the shock of the situation wore off, the fear and dread plagued me. We discussed living with him several times during this time of displacement — what if we would have taken him up on the offer? We would have been there. You wouldn’t be hearing from me right now. Todd was supposed to be in Moore yesterday as well. I’m so thankful he decided against it. He has 3 stores in the area affected by it — but all three were spared. Some were as close as 1/8 of a mile from the tornado. He’s going to be up there for a while to help his stores with the clean up efforts.
More than anything, I just want to hug my brother right now. I want to touch him to know he’s okay. I want to cry all over him because I am so glad he’s okay. I want to get to his house and help him see if there’s anything left. I want to help him save anything he might find. I’m not sure if we can get to his house right now and I don’t know if we can get through (pretty tough) anyway. I’m almost positive that we can’t get up there yet. I don’t know if there’s anything I can really do at 8 months pregnant.
Still I want to be there.
I held Bluebelle until about 11 pm last night, and I stared at her for nearly an hour as I tried in vain to go to sleep. I am both incredibly thankful her safety while I am mourning the lives displaced and lost — especially the children. I’ve spent a lot of time these last few hours trying to come up with a way to never let her out of my sight ever again… while acknowledging that I’m being neither logical nor practical. Just give a mother a few hours of dreaming, okay?
Moore is going to get a lot of attention in the coming weeks and months. Most will be much needed and appreciated. Some will not. With the international attention, we’ll get the crazy along with the good. (I’m sure Westboro is already polishing the picket signs.) People will try to take advantage of a terrible situation. I’m sure that people who don’t live in the area will hear more of the sensationalized stories and the colorful characters and will get a skewed view of the area.
But that’s not what makes up this area. That’s not the whole of Oklahoma. These are good, hardworking people. The descendents of the dust bowl. The survivors of bombings and tornadoes and many other unexpected situations. We will mourn. We will grieve. Shock will fade eventually.
People will begin to pick up the pieces, because that’s what we do. Oklahomans are resilient.
But for now, I just want to hug my brother.
** UPDATE** It actually looks like my brother’s house may still be standing!! Based on aerial photos, it looks that way. WOOHOO!