|Posted on May 28, 2013 at 10:15 AM|
Oklahomans don't understand the meaning of small talk, I have had some of my most informative conversations with total strangers while waiting around somewhere. Being held hostage in a waiting room with 5-6 other people, you find that within 5 minutes of saying, "How bout them Sooners", that you are amongst other college football experts engaging in a debate that would rival anything seen on ESPN. Saying, "Wow, its been a great year for tomatoes", while in the check-out line will soon have you looking at garden pictures on smart phones and exchanging Facebook links. And, the weather is NEVER to be confused with a safe opening line, we take it very seriously here. Every 5 year old native Okie is raised to read radar, know the precautions to take in 110 degree heat, and understands that their own town can suffer both floods and drought in the same year. Saying something about the weather to an Oklahoman will never be a short conversation, especially now.
On May 20th, the most destructive tornado in our history struck Moore. And although I live in Moore my family and home survived, but I can't say that I was not affected. My city was crippled and 24 of my fellow residents lost their lives. We were not alone; Shawnee, Newcastle, LIttle Axe, Carney and Dale were also struck during those two days last week. Being a 4th generation Oklahoman I know that natural disasters and challenges are a way of life here; however I can't imagine ever leaving Oklahoma for two simple reasons. This is home, and Okies have an inherent talent for ignoring the path of least resistance.
We belong to this land, we would never give it up without a fight, nor could we allow so many of our neighbors to carry this burden alone, it is the Oklahoma Spirit. Within 10 minutes of the tornado leaving Moore, people who had lost everything themselves were helping their neighbors dig out from under the rubble. Within an hour, the first of the responders were on site; firefighters, police, medical personnel and those equipped to look for survivors. Within 24 hours, donations of food, water, shelter, clothing, and money were flooding into the area. Businesses, churches, state and federal agencies as well as individuals by the thousands donated everything that they could. Fellow Okies gave their blood, sweat and shared their tears.
Within 48 hours, water and electric services were restored to most of the areas of Moore outside the damage path. A week has passed now and all but two major streets are open again and clean-up has begun. The sheer volume of the destruction is mind boggling, it is estimated in Moore alone that over 13,000 homes were destroyed. We lost 4 schools, numerous businesses, our hospital and post office. We were driven to our knees, but we took that opportunity to ask God for the strength to do what must be done now. Then with the compassionate outreaching hand of our Fellow Oklahomans, we got back up and took the first steps on the long hard road to recovery.
We will rebuild, no one doubts it. Oklahomans have patience, passion and perseverance, it's in our nature. You can see it whether we are talking about football or facing adversity. We are a state of diverse individuals that stand together during times of crisis because together we are strong. Together we are Oklahoma, and we are going to be ok.
Picture is from New York AP.