Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The photo above started my crying jag - one of several I saw online (click on the link for other photos). It was widely shared - a photo of a woman comforting a dying dog. I had already heard about the horse barns obliterated, with most of the horses killed. I had already seen the CBS video of the elderly woman reunited with her scraggly little darling during an interview. I had already cried as I watched the teacher who threw her body over six children - and the man who commented, "Good job, teach." I have watched hours of the news and scoured the Internet, and with each hour, I've become more emotional over the loss to so many in Oklahoma.
Last night, I suspended tweeting and posting on Facebook. It seemed like the only thing to do. I and others wondered on Twitter how anyone could tweet about makeup when so many were suffering.
I have so many questions. The children? Why was a school built with cinderblocks, rather than solid concrete walls, in tornado country? How could anyone live there without an underground storm shelter - even after FEMA offered to subsidize them after 1999? My questions will probably never be answered, but I still wonder if even one death could have been prevented. Despite being located in a region prone to tornadoes and being devastated by one in 1999, the city of Moore, according to its Web site and The New York Times, has no ordinance requiring safe rooms in public or private facilities, and the city itself lacked a community storm shelter.
Our Fairfax County Search and Rescue Team was getting ready this morning, in case they were called. I'm always so proud of them when they represent us during disasters. I doubt they will be called to Oklahoma. The authorities have said they have said they are fairly confident they have accounted for most of the area's residents.
I'm even mourning for the trees. I started to write a poem this morning (not my strength), but the thoughts that poured from my brain weren't complete. I may try to finish it later. Trees that might have provided shade for generations of families are dead and dying, their limbs and leaves torn from their trunks in an instant.
Please do what you can to help. The Red Cross, Salvation Army, Humane Society, and other established, reputable charities are on the ground and doing everything they can to help. Most news Web sites have lists of legitimate charities. Money will be needed to shelter those who are now homeless - and will be for a long time. Blood may be too; giving blood is giving the gift of life after tragedies like this one. Please remember the animals when you give. Many are still out there in the rubble of collapsed homes - or wandering the neighborhoods, looking for their families.
Tonight, hold your loved ones near, for you never know what they next day will bring.
Update 5/15: I have now cut off comments to this post. There's always a commenter who wants to tell us and the New York Times that we are all hosed. I have deleted the comment; it wasn't helpful to anyone, and the referenced source provided by the commenter was factually incorrect. FEMA offered years ago to subsidize the expensive cost of storm cellars, and the major of Moore and the governor of Oklahoma have stated on the record that they are working to ensure that all schools have safe rooms. Let's let the facts speak for themselves and continue to support the victims in any way we can - without the insulting snark that pervades the Internet. That's the real point here.
Photo courtesy of avaxnews.net