Schools Need Better Plan for Level 5 Tornadoes
Storms in Shawnee and Moore, Oklahoma
For the past three days Oklahoma has endured hail, severe lighting, and tornadoes. About 14 miles from me I could hear the warnings of a level 5 tornado headed toward New Castle and Moore, Oklahoma. I listened and watched as our storm chasers on Channel 4 news got out and chased the tornadoes to keep the people of Oklahoma safe. I take my hat off to these people who risk their life to protect Oklahoma's citizens. We expect tornadoes in this state usually in tornado season. We find ourselves often calling relatives in other southern states to let them know that the storms are also headed their way, and they may arrive in a few days.
I heard for the first time ever that this is not a warning to get out of the way of the tornado, but this is an emergency meaning we have gone beyond the usual storms. Last year was the first time I ever in my life heard to get out of the way of a level 5 storm. That means that if you are not underground, then you will be wiped away. No one can survive a storm of this magnitude. Either you get out of the way of the storm or underground. There is no other option. If you are in the bath tube or a hall closet or in the hall of your house , then you are going to be blown away. I did not think about this too much at the first time that I ever heard it, but after yesterday's massive tornado taking out many homes, killing people and destroying businesses, homes and hitting and damaging hospital, then I am in complete shock. It really gets worse.
I found out two elementary schools were flattened, and no one knew where these children were. Parents had heard an earlier report that they were holding the children in the schools until after the storm passed. The storm hit Moore with a rage beyond anything you can imagine. Why would the schools think that leaving them in the school on a level 5 tornado with no underground shelter would protect the kids. Teachers threw their bodies over as many as 6 children. One school got out the kids, some were pulled and put in a church like the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. They left the 3rd graders in the school and maybe other lower grades as well. There were 75 unaccounted for children. Today we are hearing one school got the kids out ok, and the other is not so lucky. They are pulling children's bodies from the ruins today. This is so unreal, and my heart was breaking as a former 29 year veteran teacher. Children have been part of my life so long that you cannot take this lightly. Now as a writer and a person who believes in making a difference, then I feel like we do not need to sacrifice any more children in public school. Each and every school needs an underground storm shelter separated from the school. There would have been no way to save them. Maybe in a low level tornado with lower winds, then maybe they would have been able to survive, but with 200 mile
an hour winds blowing away everything in it's path, then there would be no hope for survival. So far they have found 9 bodies of small children, and still looking. The death toll is going up and down due to the problems with no power and communications working like cell phones. This tears me up inside, because I know that no one thought about what to do in case it was one of these level tornadoes. This has happened before in 1999 a horrible tornado hit Moore.
Workers have come out state wide and out of state to hunt for survivors of this storm. Both communities are devastated. Shawnee and Moore, Oklahoma took heavy heavy hit. I would like to thank those around the world for your compassion and caring. I would definitely like to thank Kfor TV and their storm chasers and news crews who have done things to keep us informed and to others around the state who have also tried to help Oklahoma. Thanks to the Red Cross and others who are trying to make a difference. Thanks to our Governor Fallin and President Obama for sending out whatever is needed. I would also like to thank the Muskogee Nation for their lending a helping hand and others in this state who care.
Please schools think about the future. Let us think about underground shelters for our children. Some people survived, because they were in a storm shelter underground. My prayers are going out to these families, and those of my friends across the country have shared thoughts and prayers and worried about my safety living here. My heart is going out to all these families, children and businesses. May we learn something from this crisis, and I know the first thing is that we all can make a difference.
Update on Schools- The Oklahoma City Community Foundation is giving the Moore Schools a grant of $500,000. according to a news report on kfortv.com as of Dec. 9th. The money will be used for the building of storm shelters in their schools. I can see the need is great, and If anyone person, or an organization would like to join in, then it would be greatly appreciated by all those of us that believe in protecting children.