Monday, May 3, 2010

May Memories -- Forces of Nature

My heart goes out to those who suffered through the weekend of storms, tornadoes, and flooding in Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.  Lost lives, injuries, homes and property -- words can't express the heartbreak of those lives which will be changed forever by these forces of nature; neither can they adequately express the sorrow that we feel for those affected.  All most of us can do is keep them in our thoughts and prayers and, if possible, contribute to relief efforts.

I stayed up late Saturday night to track the path of tornadoes as they approached my home town in the bootheel of Missouri.  It's amazing that we can now get almost up-to-the-minute reports via the Internet, and I was relieved when I saw the "all clear" and was able to go to bed.  I didn't learn until Sunday that Memphis and Nashville had been hit hard.  I hurt and I hope that friends, family members, and those I don't know will be comforted.

It reminds me of a night here in Oklahoma -- May 3, 1999.  "Bad weather nights" aren't unusual for Oklahomans and we knew that one was coming.  Tom and I decided that we would have dinner at the Delta Cafe before we went home to "batten down the hatches", but midway during our meal, the lights flickered and the sky darkened and we decided to hurry home.  It was the beginning of a night that almost every Oklahoman will never forget -- the night of 74 tornadoes in Kansas and Oklahoma, one of which traveled through Oklahoma City, making it the single most costly tornado in U.S. history.  Doppler on Wheels (weather radar) measured it as the highest ever recorded in wind speed and intensity, just one mph short of an F6 tornado.

Tom and I watched and listened after we prepared our safe space:  Meteorologists on television were admonishing everyone to "take cover", telling us that this was really, really bad -- even by Oklahoma standards.  (This information was later credited for saving many lives.)  We were among the fortunate -- we lived in Tecumseh at the time and one of the tornadoes missed us by about ten miles as it hit the little town of Pink and moved on to Shawnee, where numerous homes were badly damaged and one woman was killed.  Another tornado hit Stroud and completely demolished Sanger Outlet Mall, which was never rebuilt.

The worst damage and greatest injuries were in the Bridge Creek and Oklahoma City area; 36 people died and 8,000 homes were badly damaged or destroyed.  You couldn't drive on I-40 or I-35 without seeing the devastation -- complete neighborhoods gone; trees that were now splintered stumps; businesses, including multi-storied buildings, that were unidentifiable.  Most of us knew somebody who had lost a family member or their home or something precious.  If you didn't, you heard the stories on television or the radio.  And you cried with your neighbors, your fellow Oklahomans.

That's one reason I'm writing this today.  To remind those who have faced, are facing, or who will face a "force of nature" that you are not alone.  God is with you, and there are many who you will never know who are with you also. 

Annie Joy

p.s.  I want to add this note about another "force of nature" -- a wonderful one -- who came into our lives 19 years ago.   My granddaughter, Whitney, is celebrating her birthday today.  She is finishing her first year at the University of Oklahoma and we are proud of her and love her very much.  Happy Birthday, Whitney!


Teri Lynne Underwood said...

Happy birthday to Whitney!

And, thank you for such a touching tribute to the loss so many have faced and are facing.

bj said...

Hi, Annie..thanks so much for coming by my place. I hope you'll come again real soon.

We live in West Texas and have always had a lot of tornadoes, too. One hit our town in 1970 and it was a huge one...I hope we never have to go thru that again.
Take care those clouds..I am!!
xo bj

From the Kitchen said...

Hi Annie Joy. We've lived in the tornado alley of Texas, California where earthquakes were a threat and Charleston, S.C. where hurricanes blew up rather frequently. We are happy to be in a place where those things do not normally occur. Our hearts always go out to those effected. Now the flooding in the south!

Your previous post brought fond memories of Samsonite luggage. Mine was blue and very heavy even before packed!


Annie Joy said...

Hi, Bonnie. My daughter just moved from Goose Creek, S.C. to Georgia, so I watched the hurricane warnings pretty closely while they lived there. Would you believe that we are having earthquakes in Oklahoma? We recently had one that shook the floor and sounded like a bomb went off! You're right about the luggage being heavy, but I think that's why the set I have is in such good condition. My two daughters used it after we got it from Tom's aunt and there's not a scratch or dent on them! Annie

A Refocused Life said...

Living on the other side of the state, I understand storm watching and the devastation that can result in tornados. Today is the one year anniversary of the tragic tornado that look property and several lives last year.

It was fun to see that your granddaughter goes to OU. My husband is an OU graduate and an avid sooner fan. We have season tickets for football, so we are in Norman several times during the fall. She is attending a wonderful school.

Annie Joy said...

Sorry to have taken so long to reply -- the weather has once again focused our attention around here. I should have mentioned May 10, 2009 in my post last week, but will when I post today. This May 10, at the time you were posting, we were in our safe place under a tornado warning. A lot of damage all around us, but we were not affected other than our Internet service, which was restored yesterday. We had thunderstorms most of the overnight hours, continuing this morning.

We're Sooner fans also; I got my master's from OU and my husband loves the team. I think that our large family contributes about 50 members to the OU fan pool. (We even have an OU Christmas wreath.) Norman is headquarters for our library system, so I was there several times a month before I retired.

I continue to enjoy your blog! Annie

Diane said...

So scary to be in the path of the wrath of mother nature. Fortunately, we have never had to experience this.

Annie Joy said...

Hi, Diane. Unfortunately, we had another round of tornados this past week. Monday night, we took shelter while under a warning, and one of the largest hit just ten miles from here. A great deal of damage from multiple tornadoes, but no loss of life, thanks to our warning systems and television coverage. (The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center is in this area.)


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