Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Edmond doesn't get tornadoes...

On Sunday, May 19th, we got to try out the storm shelter for the first time. 

For you west coasters, let me give you a visual. It's a 3 foot wide, 4 1/2 foot deep and 7 foot long metal box that is cemented below our garage. We can drive our car in and still get into the shelter. The door slides closed with a loud metal clanging, and if we were to be down there during a tornado and there was debris on top of to door, we have an inside wench that should be able to get the door open.

This isn't ours, but it gives you an idea of what it looks like:

We decided to let anyone who lives her after us know who's house this was...we even got Roy and Tatum's marks in there...

We have been reassured by many that tornadoes usually go around Edmond. And really, they do seem to. Even when they do touch down, they are low on the destruction scale.

Tatum did fine as long as the shelter door was open, and she recovered quickly when we closed it because I brought out the iPhone. We even managed to get Roy down there, and once we were all down with interlocking knees he found it quite comfortable to lay down and take a nap.

While the tornado sirens wailed, we watched a funnel snaking its way to earth. It touched down a few miles from us, banged up a few homes, downed a bunch of trees, really did some damage on a new medical center that was due to open in July, and out into open country where it it turned into a multi-vortex tornado before dissipating. 

The cross is Life Church...just up the road from Henderson Hills Baptist where my mom was hunkered down as the tornado went through the parking lot.

You can see an intercept of the tornado here:

Later a tornado touched down near Shawnee, destroying homes, turning over semis and killing two people. 

"Tomorrow," quoth the weatherman, "has the potential for the same type of storms."

On Monday around 2 my family was one again at the house with the storm shelter open and ready.  As a large cell near Newcastle seemed to appear from nothing, we heard tornado sirens again. Phones were beeping messages and warnings and the weather radio in our bedroom kept scaring the living daylights out of us with its super-loud warning.

We watched on TV as a low hanging wall cloud got lower and lower in Newcastle, until finally the funnel dropped down. By this time, my mom, Ammah, Roy and Tatum were in the shelter while Jeremiah and I scanned the clouds to see where this tornado report on my phone was coming from. It said it was less than half a mile away, and newscasters were obviously more absorbed with the EF-4 on the ground than anything that might be happening north.

We watched the live stream from a chopper as the tornado headed towards Moore, gaining strength, then would run outside and scan our own skies. We could hear the distant roar of what was becoming an EF-5 about 25 miles away. Then we would go back inside to see it was still there, big and black and grinding up the ground like a lawn mower. And our phone would beep and we'd head outside to look skyward again.

The air was heavy and muggy, the clouds swirling rapidly overhead in all directions. We ran back inside to see the tornado in Moore had hit one elementary school, and then another. Back outside.

So we did this for about 30 minutes. We brought out chalk for Tatum and crackers and tried to keep it light for her sake, but we knew every time we went inside that there was deadly destruction going on just half an hour to our south.

This is our skies, but no tornado...

Roy didn't like me not being in the pit with him...

Crackers keep this kid happy...

Tatum deciding to sit on Uncle J-J's artwork

When the sirens died away and we finally determined it must have been a false alarm, we headed inside and watched the tornado finally rope out and reveal the damage it had done.

It had been on the ground for 40 minutes and carved a muddy path for 17 miles. 

Most of you have probably watched news coverage and seen videos and photos. Last Saturday we donned our work boots and headed down, and I have to say that nothing quite compares to seeing it in person. 

But I'll post on that tomorrow.

Until then, hug your family tighter and hold your things looser. 

This world is not our home, we're just a'passing through.


  1. Thank you for this informative entry. I have friends and acquaintances all through OK and I was worried. I am glad to hear your family is safe.

  2. My niece lives in South OK City, just south of the community college, but was thankfully at work on the north side of town when the twister hit. She said the commute home that night was a nightmare as everyone and their brother tried to get into the ravaged south side and see the damage themselves.

    She just moved into this apartment a few months ago. Before, she lived with family friends who lived in mobile homes (no storm shelter) just outside of Newcastle and Norman...so of course she was freaking out about them when she heard where the twister started at.

    Thankfully, everyone she / we knows that live in and around OK city metro area are safe and sound....but the stories coming out of that area are insane and heartbreaking and rolled into one. I can only hope that this storm and its resulting catastrophic damage will get some sort of storm shelters build in/around the schools, especially elementary schools.