Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back Through Tornado Alley

On May 20th, the city of Moore, Oklahoma, experienced one of the worst F5 tornadoes, with winds over 200+ mph winds. During this storm/tornado, I found myself (an older over weight woman) in my small linen closet with a bicycle helmet, crouched down holding on to my two Chihuahuas, thinking to myself, “I wasn’t going to survive this tornado”.  As this tornado headed east bound, roaring through the city of Moore, throwing houses, cars, trucks, tractors, trees, cows, horses, and people like they were paper dolls, I remained in my closet in fear, listening to the roar, feeling the winds (because my bathroom window was open at the time to prevent my house from exploding), and feeling the pressure all around me.  I slowly crawled out of the closet shaking, not knowing what type of damage actually occurred to our home.  We were fortunate, our damage was nothing compared to those who were directly in the path of this monster.  After finding out my family was okay (both son and husband were at work), I worked at getting our supplies together to hit the road to help those in trouble.  Emergency personnel requested everyone stay off the roads and out of the area for 24 hours.  My family honored the request of the emergency personnel.  After the 24 hours of waiting, our family went into action to help those in need.

On a post I made back in May about the incident, I took several pictures of a home and a development my family worked to help victims recover belongs and provided emotional support.  Remember some of these pictures? 
Well here are a couple of these pictures right after the tornado.  I also have several pictures taken last night while traveling through the same area.  Notice the debris is all gone, the grass has grown, several trees produced green leaves, and there are signs of people rebuilding.   
Over the next several months, when I travel back in the hit hard area, I will take pictures to show the improvement and life returning to the area.
Going back last night into areas hit was very emotional for me.  I thought about the pain and suffering each person experienced, and wonder if they would return to rebuild, or move to a safe place, far away from tornado alley.


Same Location Totally Cleared Out



  1. It is great to see there is progress and to know people are recovering.

    Thank you and your family for helping.

  2. Gail,

    It is really nice to see progress. I'm wondering though out of the 12,000 homes destroyed how many owners will return.

    No need to thank us, you would do the exact same thing.

  3. You know, the news always covers these tragedies in depth but then it's on to the next story wherever that may be and we always wonder what happens in the aftermath? Thank you for sharing your story and sharing those photos. It's amazing to see recovery but amazing that it's still so barren of homes and families. You are right, I wonder how many will never come back? That's just so sad.

    We helped collect, pick up, and pack some donations back when the storms hit and then some people drove it all up there to donate. It was our little way of helping, even if just a bit. I hope everyone recovers and please keep us all updated.

    Most of all, be safe!

    1. 1st Man,

      The news really never follows up after the fact on many incidents. I will try to get more pictures and post them on my blog the next several weeks.

      I couldn't even give you an estimate on how many people will return to where there house last stood to rebuild.

      The people of the city of Moore really appreciate what you've done to help. It doesn't matter how much was donated every bit helped someone in need.
      Thank you and yours for the your kind and loving hearts.

      You be safe too, another season of tornadoes are just around the corner.

  4. We had a tornado hit out town, tearing it to bits. That was two years ago. Some of the places look almost as bad as they did 2.5 years ago.

    In another tornado I got in the closet with all my pictures I had placed there after taking them off the walls. I had my purse and shoes on my feet. As I stood there listening to the roar, all of a sudden water was running on my head. I stood there completely puzzled. Then, it hit me: I have no roof. Well, it was not that bad, but part of the roof was gone. It is a surreal experience.

    Lots of people came out of their houses with chain saws and just started working, cutting trees and pulling them from cars and driveways, making the roads passable before official emergency workers arrived. I guess those were people like you.

    1. Linda,

      We can never really know exactly where a tornado will hit. If you can be proactive and prepared for anything (storm, economic incident, fires, earthquakes, ect....) you and your family will be okay.

      When I went into the closet, I already had my legal papers, guns, ammo, food and water (just in case your not found immediately), flashlights, dogs (food and water for them). Communication resources and cash with me. I was prepared to be stuck in that closet for some time.

      There are still wonderful people (sometimes there hard to find) in this world. They are so willing to help others out when there's a tragedy or need.

  5. Oh Sandy I cannot imagine the emotions of going through this. The photos scare me so bad I am shaking thinking of what you went through. HUGS B

    1. Buttons,

      The photo's I took on my original post were not the worst of the worst. It was an extremely emotional couple of days for me. I've been in the middle of some really bad storms and fires in the 51 years of my life. None of them scared me as bad as the tornadoes which came through Moore on May 20th and May 31st.

  6. A reminder that life goes on after the news and cameras are gone. Changed but not defeated.

  7. sweet Sandy - you already know how i feel about this tragedy, in which you and yours stepped up and helped out! i am just glad that you know what to do in these types of situations, personally (getting in the closet, babies, helmet and papers), and then publicly - getting out there and helping your community. yer good people, Sandy. guess that's why we love you all!

    your friend,

    1. Sweet Kymber,

      Yes Ma'am I sure do. Through my work experience, being a military wife and brat, and living through disasters (Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, human related disasters). I've learned to always be aware, alert, and ready for whatever comes your way.

      Helping others is why were put of this earth. I try to do what I can with what I have.

      You and Jambaloney are also great people, you do for others all the time, and you do it unselfishly. We love you both too.
      Sending hugs and love your way.

      Your Friend,

  8. Thanks for sharing AND caring enough to help out physically. The mental and emotional toll must be enormous.

    1. Mrs. Mac,

      It still is enormous for many people living and working in the areas. Even I had a real hard time going back and seeing nothing in the locations where homes used to be.

  9. is hard to believe that is the same area. My cousins all in San Antonio, TX organized a large U-HAUL truck, they spent three days taking in donations both physical and monetary. By the time they were done and headed to Moore, they had collected over $15,000 in cash, including gift cards. They had almost 7500 pounds of clothing and non perishable items.
    They went down passable streets handing things out of the back of the UHAUL, and parked in a church parking lot. Her pictures were so emotional. I think they too are planning a trip back to see the progress.

    1. JUGM,

      I may have actually met your cousins while working in a housing development clearing personal items out for a terminally ill elderly woman. We had several trucks come through handing out items and being very helpful.

      This country pulls together when there are disasters. Please thank you cousins for me. My backdoor is next to the city of Moore. We felt everything and had some damage. Nothing to even stress over compared to the families we helped.

      While helping, I had a real hard time holding back my emotions. It was like a bomb had went off. So many people were hurt, we lost 24 people on the first tornado and 21 on the second.

      I worry about what next tornado season will be like.