Riding in a van traveling through the hairpin turns on the Road to Hana on the island of Maui, the Good Chaplain felt his phone vibrate. He received a text from Illinois Girl. Moore, OK had an EF4 or EF5 tornado.
I gasped when I read the text. We own a house in Moore. I prayed it was still standing, but more than that I prayed for the safety of all my friends still living in the area. We’d lost cell coverage after reading the text, so we waited until we stopped at a winery and started texting everyone we knew.
The news coming in wasn’t good. The storm hit two elementary schools. It killed about 50 people, 20 of them children. “Oh dear God, what about Tessa and Sarah?” The girls lived across the street and next door to us respectively. Were they in one of the schools?
The rest of the day and into the night we waited for word from friends. Tessa’s step-dad finally texted that the neighborhood was fine, but the storm hit about two blocks south of the house. Many of our old haunts were hit — the medical center, the post office, the credit union, the movie theater.
Sarah’s dad added a little levity when he said the fence he and the Good Chaplain fixed several times was still standing. The tenants reported they were good.
But my heart broke seeing the devastation and destruction of this storm. The final tally was not as bad as originally thought — 24 people killed including 10 children, seven of whom were in the school.
And as I watched the news, I felt proud of the townspeople. An EF5 wiped out the town once before in 1999. They knew the drill. Many of them simply thanked God they were alive, offered sympathy to those who lost loved ones, and vowed to rebuild. That is Oklahoma at its best.
Now, I have another knot in my stomach and tears in my eyes as I hear of more severe storms going over the same area. Pray for the people of the entire Oklahoma City area and those in St. Louis, which got hit by tornadoes today too.