I am from Oklahoma. In the 22 years I lived there, I spent my share of time taking cover in the designated room in our house or hallway at school as big storms rolled through. I don't know if I ever saw a tornado really in all that time. Tornadoes are capricious. They take funny twists and turns. And after living through a few dozen of them when nothing bad happens to your own little piece of the world, you get a little immune to the worry of it. I did, anyway.
And then tornadoes tore through Moore again a couple of weeks ago. That's pretty close to where my brother Glen and sister-in-law Kim and nieces Patricia and Alyssa live. But they were fine. And then last Friday I got a push notification on my iPhone from CNN that a tornado emergency (a designation that didn't even exist when I lived there, which means "Holy crap, there is a tornado right on top of you and you are in grave danger") was issued for El Reno, where Kim and Glen live.
In previous storms, Kim has posted regular updates on Facebook during storms from the storm cellar. (They built their house maybe 12 years ago and had a storm cellar installed. Most people don't have them. It's very difficult and expensive to dig down in Oklahoma.) During this storm, Kim was not on-line. Thankfully, Kim had gotten word out to my niece Alyssa who was out of town, that she, Glen, and Patricia were safely in the cellar, drinking wine, eating gluten-free snacks, and riding out the storm.
That is their house. Behind the house is a humongous freaking tornado. This picture was captured from video taken from a storm chaser news team immediately before their back window was broken out by flying debris. Amazingly, the house and barn survived though they did suffer some significant damage. The cows and horse survived. Two dogs were missing. One has found his way home. Everyone still holds out hope for pup #2, a friendly canine named Cinco. If you are in or near El Reno and see this dog, let me know.
I am grateful that my family is safe. I am grateful they have a storm cellar. I am grateful that Alyssa kept us up-to-date. I'm even grateful for this visual proof of how close a call they had. Please hold a thought for those that were not so lucky. Send love and light and prayers to their families and to the survivors of the storms that lost everything. Try to remember to work some gratitude into your everyday routine. Everything can change in an instant.
Miracle of all miracles, Cinco was returned to the family alive and well a few days after the tornado.