Oklahoma

If you've read my books, it should come as no surprise that I love Oklahoma. I practically grew up there, in the southside just west of Moore. The places I wrote about in DISARM are real, they are places that I've visited often.

I was there during that infamous day on May 3, 1999 when tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma. I was working at Montgomery Wards at the time, watching the emerging weather on the small TV in the break room. We called all of the customers inside the stock rooms to take cover, huddling under racks of clothes as the winds howled outside. The mall was spared but my neighborhood was not so lucky. Going home that night proved impossible. Streets were blocked off, people were parking at the side of the road and just walking home. I couldn't get anywhere near our house, so I just stayed at a friend's place, not knowing if I even had a home to go back to.

Thankfully my family and our house was spared with minimal damage. We were lucky. Three houses down began the real damage. Brick houses were reduced to cement foundations and a jumble of wood, mud, and personal belongings. I can't even describe it, how it looked as if the place had been bombed. It was the worst thing I'd ever seen, like I'd been dropped in the middle of a war zone.

But the spirit of Oklahoma is resilient and giving. I bore witness to the community coming together, and slowly our homes, hospitals, and businesses were rebuilt brick by brick. We recovered in time.


Yesterday, a monster tornado went through my beloved Oklahoma again. The disaster zone you see on TV is literally right around the corner from my old home, where my parents still live. Once again, I could only sit in front of the TV—this time from all the way across the country—and watch helplessly while my beloved state was torn to pieces. My parents' house was in the tornado's direct path, and for a tense thirty minutes we couldn't get a hold of my mom, who was home alone at the time. Thankfully, she had taken shelter in our neighbor's storm cellar.

Once again, my parents' home was spared as the tornado veered a different direction at the last minute. Others were not so lucky, including two elementary schools where children were trapped inside. Reports state that over a hundred people were found alive overnight, but many more are still missing, many of them children.

I can't even imagine how people over there must be feeling; I feel so impotent, powerless over here. Every part of me wants to go home, to don gloves and run to those schools and help sift through the rubble to find survivors. But all I can do from here is donate money and show gratitude to rescue efforts, and pray that they may find many more survivors today.


So thank you to Lola and Stewart, who took in my frantic mom and kept her safe. You'll never know what the tiny gesture of making room in an already-cramped space means to us.

Thank you to good Samaritans who help, any way they can.

Thank you to the rescue workers who are working tirelessly, laboring against the odds and the elements to find survivors.

Thank you to the teachers, who stayed with the students inside the school. You are truly angels in human form.

If you can, please donate to the Red Cross to help with disaster relief HERE. You can also text REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation.

To my fellow Oklahomans: my thoughts and prayers are with you today.

And finally, here's a photograph taken by Nancy Dodd Poole of Broken Arrow, OK.

"My Niece and Nephew live in Edmond and OKC and 
they went down to try to help in the clean up at Moore. 
Here is one of their pictures. Just gives you chills!"