May 3rd Anniversary

Anyone from Oklahoma knows what happened on May 3rd 1999, that was “the big one”.  The F5 tornado (My tornado) that destroyed most of my neighbourhood and thousands of other homes.  I have a lot to be thankful for, and this anniversary is a good time to pause and remember.

Moms Scanned Pic

I’ve never, never heard anything as loud as that tornado, its nothing like a freight train!  I felt the noise with every hair on my body; the noise hurt more than the debris falling on me as the tornado moved on to devour other neighbourhoods.

I’ve never been so grateful to be alive, so grateful that my son and husband were unharmed.

I’ve never been so unconcerned about my house and the possessions inside it.

I admit, I’ve never wished so hard that my album of baby pictures would somehow show up (it didn’t).

I’ve never been more proud than when my husband presented me keys to an apartment that he secured as soon as the leasing office opened.

I never knew before that my community, coworkers and friends would reach out and support me, although I’m not from round here; not a regular at any of their churches; not so needy since we had good insurance – they made me feel like I belong.

Moms Scanned Pic 2

So here we are, eleven years later.  We built the house we were planning, on the land we’d just paid for right before the tornado came….. only the plans were modified to include a storm shelter.  Nowadays, we know that in the event of a disaster, communication may be difficult, and knowing that everyone is OK, is priceless.  We occasionally review our “disaster plan”:

  • Keep a current copy of important documents (such as birth-certificates, drivers licenses & passports) in the storm shelter, plus a copy of prior year tax returns.
  • Keep a change of clothes & shoes for each member of the household in the storm shelter.
  • Keep clutter out of the storm shelter.
  • Keep an eye on the weather, and at least half a tank of gas the auto.
  • Remember to check where the safest place would be in the event of a tornado coming, when at work, shopping, visiting a friend…..
  • Agree who to call and leave an “I’m OK” message with that is some distance away from home.
  • Agree where you will go to in the event that there isn’t a house to go home to.

Water & food are not in my plan – I’m likely to grab a bottle of wine & chunk of cheese plus my latest knitting project & the weather radio if I feel its necessary to take shelter in the storm closet.  But after a tornado has passed, I’m within walking distance of clean water and a place to stay for the night.  Should such an incredible thing happen to me and my family again, I may need to walk a couple of miles while I sort out my thoughts.

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