Yahoo is publishing Oklahoma residents' first-person observations and experiences after Monday's tornadoes tore through the Oklahoma City area. Here's one story.
FIRST PERSON STORM DIARY | NORMAN, Okla. -- On Monday, we stood huddled together in a small concrete storage room, the inner-most space at the office. My back was against the cold concrete, and my feet were awkwardly planted around a small trash can. I stood there with six other women for 20 minutes in the dark, waiting.
An hour later, I was given the OK to go home. My house was only 12 miles south to Norman, usually a 20-minute commute. I drove south only to be told the road ahead was closed because of downed power lines. Police cars were everywhere, their lights and sirens blaring. I tried to drive east, toward I-35. If I could get to the other side of the highway, I could get back to Norman. The radio confirmed my suspicions: All roads going south to Norman were either blocked off or backed up. It was still too early for traffic signs to have been put up anywhere so nobody knew what streets were closed off until we got there. Traffic was at a standstill. Some intersections had police to direct traffic, most didn't.
Everywhere I looked I saw police cars and fire trucks. A group of squad cars sat high on a hill, as a command post. A bulldozer drove down the middle of the road. The radio told me the National Guard had been dispatched. Troops from the panhandle were on their way. People began to gather on the corners of streets. More and more pedestrians began to line the streets. Others began to weave through the stopped traffic altogether.
So I drove north to Oklahoma City where I was finally able to cross over I-35 via I-240 and drive east. I drove until I didn't know where I was anymore before deciding to exit south.
These roads were quiet, peaceful. The complete opposite of what I had just come from 15 minutes prior. Horses stood idly in the fields. I thought about the farmer that was finding his own horses, ripped in two and having to make the decision to put other injured horses down himself.
As I maneuvered my way back into Norman, two and a half hours prior to first leaving work, a sense of guilt washed over me. It may have taken me hours to get back home but at least I had a home to get back to.
- Oklahoma City area