First Person: Watching the Oklahoma Twister's Destruction Up Close

Yahoo Contributor Network

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 | My normal routine each morning is to turn on the TV as soon as my alarm goes off at 6:10 a.m. The first thing I saw was the weather report. This was odd simply because this news channel, KOCO Channel 5, does its weather reports on the "fives" -- you know, 6:05, 6:15, 6:25, etc. It was 6:10. The meteorologist said these words that stuck with me all day: "If you have anything you need to do today, do it by 2 because tornadoes are expected by 3." I kept hearing him say this in my head all day.

I work in Moore at the Moore Public Schools Administrative Services Center. My children attend Moore High School. On the morning drive, I alerted them that I would be checking them out of school at 2 p.m. because of the weather. My mind was made up: No ifs, ands or buts; I was definitely leaving work at 2 p.m.

I watched the news online all day at work. I have never felt this uneasy about an approaching storm before. I've lived in Oklahoma for 28 years, so I know that tornadoes are not foreign to the state by any stretch of the imagination. Monday just felt different to me.

Shortly after 2 p.m., I headed down the stairwell to my car and over to the high school to check out my children. Of course, there was a line of parents doing the same thing, so it wasn't a quick process. As I nervously waited for my children to come down the hall, I tried to comfort another mother who was extremely nervous as she heard on the radio that the tornado was expected to be arriving in Moore at 2:33 p.m.

I was finally in my car with my kids and driving home by 2:30. At 2:45 p.m. the school district sent out this message:

"2:45 p.m. We are currently holding all students until the current storm danger is over. Students are being released to parents only at this time. We will notify you by this same method when student release begins."

I arrived home at 2:47 and turned on the TV to see that the tornado was in Newcastle, just west of and minutes from Moore. I watched the tornado gain size as it moved into southern Oklahoma City and then into Moore, down a very popular path that I drive weekly. I watched in disbelief as the tornado swept through the movie theater I love so much. The 7-Eleven that I visit at least twice a week is gone. The credit union that I recently visited is nothing but a slab. Many other businesses and neighborhoods I am so familiar with are destroyed. When I heard that two elementary schools were hit, I immediately knew which ones they had to be talking about. My heart sank when I saw the footage.

Later Monday evening, I was informed that the administrative building where I work is severely damaged. We can't go back, the destruction is so bad. The cars on the lot were tossed and flipped, and our work's technology center, located on the same lot, is gone. Several nearby homes are nothing but rubble. The junior high school next door to my work suffered little damage. Although it was in the direct path of the tornado, the damage does not compare to the destruction that occurred at the elementary school just two miles away, or to the damage that was done to the administrative building just next door. It seemed as if the twister jumped right over the junior high school.

The next few weeks and months will seem like an eternity.

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