At Stevens Creek Elementary School in Martinez, hordes of parked cars line the street on a beautiful spring morning for a 5th Grade honors program on the last day of school.
All around the country, routine – precious, blessed, comforting routine – greeted most of us on Tuesday.
In Moore, Okla., the shaken set about the twin tasks of digging out survivors and burying the dead from one of the country’s deadliest and most destructive tornadoes in memory.
Those who live long in tornado alley – Moore was hit hard just 14 years ago – can have nightmares about it. On Monday, those nightmares became startlingly real.
Everyone’s worst fear – having a school full of children hit squarely – also came true, as children at Plaza Towers Elementary and Briarwood Elementary schools huddled in halls and lavatories, some sheathed under their teachers’ protective instincts.
The death toll bounced around in the hours following, but there was no doubt that dozens were killed. Some 240 were said to be injured, a quarter of them children.
One brave woman on the phone to the news media surveyed her flattened home while noting the splintered houses and insulation and other debris were just “stuff.”
Yes, but so much of it. And so much of it that is so meaningful – family heirlooms and photographs, all the things we tally up as memories.
They only had 15 minutes or so to take cover, which doesn’t sound like a lot – and certainly not enough to think about saving precious items, when lives are what really matter. Yet, those few minutes of warning no doubt saved lives, perhaps dozens.
Indeed, most of the deadliest U.S. tornadoes on record came before the advent of modern storm tracking – the principal exception being the Monster of Joplin, Mo., which killed 158 two years ago this week.
Georgia is not immune, either: Gainesville claims two places on the list of the nation’s 25 deadliest tornadoes (April 6, 1936, and June 1, 1903).
Our hearts and prayers go out to the good people of Moore, Okla., who have been attacked by two monsters in 14 years – but who, in media interviews Monday, expressed an enduring faith and an unshakable resolve to move forward.
They will need more resolve than they ever have.
Determination is just the start, of course, and they will also need all the help they can get to recover. We encourage you to seek out ways to send that help, through such organizations as the American Red Cross – at www.redcross.org, and at 1-800 REDCROSS. You may also text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10.
It’s a tangible way to express your gratitude for an uninterrupted and merciful routine.