South-central Kansans are focusing their prayers, thoughts and charity on the devastation that visited Moore, Okla. When “the monster returned” Monday, as the Oklahoman newspaper said in comparing the storm to one that struck 14 years ago, it looked familiar in these parts, too, both from experience and our nightmares.
Thirteen months ago, a mile-wide EF-3 twister chose targets including Pinaire Mobile Home Park in Oaklawn and Spirit AeroSystems, miraculously sparing lives but leaving a costly mess. Just Sunday the Wichita area went through a chilling close call, as what turned out to be three small tornadoes brought down power poles and tree limbs and broke windows – after sending even seasoned meteorologists running for cover.
On Monday, it was Moore’s turn again to see a massive tornado bearing down on it, and then neighborhoods flattened, businesses wrecked, and residents trapped, killed and injured. As always, emergency personnel and volunteers rushed in to do search, rescue and recovery, responding to inexplicable disaster with courage, strength and selflessness.
Moore’s latest heartbreak is especially deeply felt by parents everywhere, given how the afternoon tornado hit two elementary schools and took the lives of at least seven children. We have been inspired by the stories of teachers who used their own bodies to shield their students from the tornado’s power and debris, and touched by the images of the human chain of first responders passing children from rubble to safety and the tearful reunions of parents and children.
Now, Oklahoma needs our help. Those wishing to donate money to the relief and rescue efforts can do so at www.salvationarmyusa.org or by calling 800-725-2769. Checks can be sent to Oklahoma Tornado Relief, Salvation Army, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK 73157.
“This was the storm of storms,” Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said Tuesday.
But knowing nature as well as we do in Tornado Alley means knowing there will be many more storms. All we can do is respect their power, heed the warnings, and try to be prepared and safe.