Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Devastation in Oklahoma

Having grown up during the Viet Nam War, I got used to seeing napalm bombs and explosions and the aftermath on TV while I was eating supper.  I also lived and worked on a farm, served on a Grand Jury for 6 months, and worked in a teaching hospital for more than eight years, seeing duty in the Emergency Room, the Operating Room, Labor and Delivery, and several Intensive Care Units.  I have seen births and deaths - beautiful, joyous, ugly and heart-rending.  I grew up, essentially, on the East Coast of the United States, in Florida and Virginia; Mom was a Virginian, but my Dad was born in Oklahoma and raised in Kansas, near the Missouri River.  I grew up knowing about hurricanes, while Dad told tales of "twisters."  Mom told us about hurricanes and flooding on the island she grew up on.  Dad countered with the Dust Bowl and tornadoes.  Dad's family thought we were crazy for staying on the East Coast with all the hurricanes; Mom's family thought Dad's family was crazy for living near Tornado Alley.
  Mom and Dad always tantalized me with old family tales of being related to famous families in Europe, and I became a history buff.  I have poured over photos from many wars, trying to understand the minds that could plot and plan such horrific battles.  Looking at photos of the aftermaths of battles and bombings, I have always felt grief - for those lost, for their families, for history lost, and for all the multiple possibilities lost because of the deaths of young men and women.  I realize that is the shape of our world today, but I deplore it.
  Yesterday afternoon, a huge tornado touched down in Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City.  The "tip" of the funnel touching the ground is estimated at being one mile wide - and it traveled through Moore on a path more than 40 miles long.  Currently, the winds are estimated at having been about 200 miles per hour.  The devastation is complete and horrific.  It looks as if the town had been bombed off the map - and the tornado swept through two elementary schools, causing multiple deaths.  Seven school children drowned in a shallow pool of water at one school.  Many other students have been rescued from the wreckage overnight.  The search and rescue efforts continue today.  When I arose this morning, the national news was saying that at least 91 people were dead, including 20 children.  That number has now been revised to a somewhat lower number...  But many are still missing.  One young man was working at a horse farm on the outskirts of Moore; he had 80 horses in his care.  When he heard the tornado warning, he turned all the horses loose; he was trapped in a stall.  The barn collapsed around him. The young man survived, as did one of the eighty horses...
  I wrote about studying the photos of battlefields and bombing sites from different wars.  The photos of the results of the tornado yesterday are comparable to the bombings of Berlin, the bombings of London, and the bombs at Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  The devastation is so overwhelming that words cannot really describe what is left.  If you can afford to, please donate to the American Red Cross to aid those in need in Oklahoma.  Thank you.

No comments: