It's 2:26 am. I can't sleep. I'm typing this up on my phone because there is no power here, and I can recharge in my car if I need to. There are at least two helicopters that have been buzzing just north of us since we got home at 10ish. They are not the reason I can't sleep. My mind is racing in a million different directions right now. I might cover all of them here, because I might not be able to sleep if I don't. I may ramble a bit. I may not go in chronological order. I'm not entirely sure of the chronology of all of this myself yet. As this post is mostly for my own sanity, if you happen to be reading this, and are not me, please forgive me any transgressions against basic English composition. If you can't, I'll blame most of them on autocorrect anyways.
At about 3-ish today (yesterday really I guess...It's hard for me to increment the days without a sleep between them), a big fucking tornado tore through the area immediately to the north of my house. To answer the first round of questions you might have, we are all fine. Our house stands with no visible-in-moonlight damage. We were all out near the State Capitol when the tornado hit. I was at a continuing-ed seminar being hosted by the Geophysical Society of Oklahoma City in the Oklahoma history center, while my wife had taken the kids and our babysitter to the state Capitol to inform some of our legislators just how bad some pieces of proposed legislation really are. I really dig how she's not afraid to tell powerful people that they are full of it. Especially when she's right. And she's usually right. I also really dig that she is determined to show our kids just how easy it is to do so, and takes them with her on trips like these.
I'm especially glad of that last fact today.
You see, most of the buildings at the Capitol complex have some very large basements. Also, this time they happened to be very much away from the destructive parts of the storm. However, as a matter of policy all people in those buildings were herded into the basements. You can never be too careful with these things. The destructive power of some tornadoes are matched only by their randomness. A random walk with a sledgehammer. This one had a big fucking sledgehammer.
Down in those basements, some people quickly self segregated. Not by race, or gender or any of the other lines we often misguidedly draw upon society though. AT&T customers over here, Verizon over there. No, none of us really have any dog in the hunt with regards to the carrier wars. Instead, several users of each cellular network sought out and found those small areas of the large basement that let their signals through. Even though those signals were delivering data to their users at a rate that would make a pimply faced teen in 1994 proud of his 2400 baud modem (yes, I had one of those then, and it was outdated then too).
Slowly the news trickled in. "Holy shit, Moore High school is gone!" I heard someone exclaim. Where this shard of knowledge originated, or its veracity, I have no idea. A few minutes later the same was said about Westmoore High. "Please don't let the next person say Southmoore High" I said to no one in particular.
Guess what someone said a few minutes after that? I don't feel I need to answer that question.
I should note though that currently I believe all Moore High Schools are probably still standing. I could be very wrong about that. When we finally got out the radio announcers seemed to be focusing on two elementary schools. One of those though is about a half mile north of Southmoore.
For some reference, I live about a mile south of Southmoore.
We were down in the basements for what seemed like an eternity. It was 4 something when they gave us the all clear. I called my wife. Our babysitters parents were kind enough to welcome us into their home while we tried to figure out whether or not there was a home to go home to and how we would get there with all of the destruction between us and home. And also as we checked up on friends and family, and let those who might have been worried about us know that we were all ok.
I'm happy to say that so far, as far as we can tell, all of our loved ones are safe. Although there are still some spots of worry on that front. A good friend of ours, a single mother of two autistic children lives in an apartment complex just off of 19th. A mutual friend of ours out in San Francisco mentioned on Facebook that she heard they were safe, but had not heard directly from her. (Wireless Internet is currently all but useless at my house, so if there have been any updates on her status since 10pm, I have no idea what they are right now). Another friend of ours, a mother of a 2 year old lost her house. She lives in a neighborhood just north of 19th and Santa Fe. I had reported on twitter earlier that she and her son had ridden out the storm in the bathtub. I'm happy to say that that report was not entirely accurate. Had they done so, there is a very good chance they would not be with us anymore. Instead, as they were hunkered down in the tub waiting for the storm to hit or pass, she panicked. She put her son in the car and drove away. Thankfully she chose a good direction to go, as her last update on Facebook noted that when she got back to the house after the storm had passed that her tub was filled with debris. Apparently she got out about 10 minutes ahead of the storm. Her husband works at OU so we are pretty sure he is fine, and they have some family to stay with for the time being...
Most of the other updates we have gotten through various social media, texts and phone calls have all been positive.
Staying put is hard.
Staying here when you know there are still kids missing in a demolished elementary school is gut wrenching. Going however may do more harm than good. I'm not trained in any life saving anything. (Note to myself #1: change that). The road just leading to my neighborhood is crazy clogged with cars. Adding to that might be adding to the time it takes someone to get to medical professionals.
I don't think I'll be going to work tomorrow. Instead we'll try to meet up with other members of a local group we belong to and do whatever we can find that needs doing.
I must have said enough. I'm feeling a bit sleepy. I have other thoughts. Even some ideas that might be useful in the future. But these can wait. At least until tomorrow.
For now, be safe. Hug your loved ones tight and let them know in no uncertain terms that they are loved. Also, hug a stranger. They might need one too.