Before, During and the Aftermath by Arhonda Luman 5-10-16

Wynnewood, oklahoma tornado

(photo courtesy of Sherri Dixon)

Excitement crackled in our home like a blazing fire in the midst of winter It was almost 4:00 pm and time to start getting ready for the awards assembly at the school. My grandson, Mark, will graduate this week so we were excitedly awaiting the festivities. How could anyone know, schedules and emotions could be altered in the time of a heartbeat?

It seemed to be pretty much a normal day in Oklahoma. The meteorologists had foretold, there would be severe weather on Sunday. They even named certain areas  that seemed to be likely targets of the menacing storm.

Still, this is Oklahoma and weather is subject to change, so I personally did not take the message to heart. There are those, who are driven by fear,  who defy the nature’s forces and those who scoff at fear. I am in the middle, I suppose, not driven by fear but would never scoff at those who were.

I was sitting in my favorite chair, about to shower for the assembly when our three cell phones screamed their warnings, piercing the quietness with their shrill proclamations. The hair on the backs of our necks stood straight up.  I picked up my phone, expecting to see the message, “Flash flood warning,” like it had been the last couple of times. Instead, the message was, “There is a tornado in Garvin and Murray county!”  I slapped at the uncomfortable feeling on my neck, and read the message again.

It was then, I knew things were bad. My husband and I checked our battery level on our phones. I had about 20% and he had about 10% on his. We needed to charge them. That plan failed  in just a second. The electricity went out. I did not know if it was just mine or the whole area, so I asked about it on Facebook.  Everyone in our area was out of service.

It was when I opened Facebook that I realized the true gravity of the situation. Tragedy  was circling like buzzards ready to feed.  My phone battery was low. I knew there was no way to recharge it  but like a thirst driven camel on the desert, I could not stop myself. I could not disconnect with my friends and loved ones that were in danger. There were fingerprints on my screen. I tried to wipe them away so I could be more in tune with the posts. I smeared the prints, but somehow, kept thinking if I kept swiping  at them, it would help wipe away some of the fear the people were engulfed with.

Facebook, where friends and family share jokes and news and pictures of new babies, had morphed. It became a medium that channeled fear, pain and uncertainty with every word. There were those scared witless for friends and family  that were in the line of the voracious attack of the tornado. Some feared for family who had lost electricity and needed the precious energy to fuel their oxygen. Hail stones, larger than golf balls were placed in hands so their audience could see the magnitude of the many faces of the storm. Pictures of the tornado covered the screens. Homes were destroyed, lives were forfeit. Cattle panicked and ran in bunches into the furthest recesses the fencing would allow, only to become easy targets for the storm. Memories, pets, and property swept away in the blink of an eye.

The electricity is back on. My home is safe. Thankfulness is the banner that is flying from my heart.  Not everyone fared so well. God be with those who did not escape the maleficent clutches of the May 9th tornado.

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