Sandra and I watched in horror all through the evening and into the night as the carnage of the Oklahoma tornado strike unfolded… CNN showed aerial views of total devastation, and gradually followed with the chilling details…winds exceeding 200 mph…few basements or cellars in which families could seek refuge…a school demolished …
A school demolished! With third-graders inside the building!
We could only wonder how the parents of those children were reacting to the ominous news. We waited for the other shoe to fall, fearing the worst.
And the worst came as we watched and waited.
“People are pulling children from the rubble,” we heard one man tell a TV reporter who had arrived by helicopter. And then the news got worse. And worse.
The Associated Press reported this morning:
The hell he saw was harrowing, but it’s the sounds at Plaza Towers Elementary that Stuart Earnest Jr. says will haunt him forever.
“All you could hear were screams,” Earnest said. “The people screaming for help. And the people trying to help were also screaming.”
Plaza Towers, a pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade school, took a direct hit when a titanic tornado chewed a deadly and destructive 20-mile path through Newcastle, Moore and parts of southern Oklahoma City for 40 minutes Monday afternoon.
And here’s how Reuters described the disaster:
Pre-dawn emergency workers searched feverishly for survivors in the rubble of homes, primary schools and an hospital in an Oklahoma City suburb ravaged by a massive Monday afternoon tornado feared to have killed up to 91 people and injured well over 200 residents.
The 2-mile (3-km) wide tornado tore through the town of Moore outside Oklahoma City, trapping victims beneath the rubble as one elementary school took a direct hit and another was destroyed.
Reporters were cleared back from Plaza Towers Elementary School, which sustained a direct hit Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb told CNN. But television pictures showed firefighters from more than a dozen fire departments working under bright spotlights to find survivors.
The full extent of the tragedy is yet to emerge. Rescue teams are still desperately searching through the wreckage. And news is difficult to obtain. Roads leading to the area are choked with traffic as local families try in vain to return to what’s left of their homes.
May God give them the strength to endure the horrors many will find.
The residents of Oklahoma are probably used to tornadoes. The state gets several of them a year. But, as stunned residents told TV reporters, this one was different. Nobody could remember anything like this. It was the kind of tornado that could only be survived by going underground, and the rocky land makes basements prohibitively expensive.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Do you suspect climate change might be responsible – as it surely was for Hurricane Sandy and so many other unprecedented natural disasters in recent months?
Or do you share the skepticism of America’s radical right?
Do you honestly think that scientists’ global warming warnings are a hoax?
Photo shows a child being pulled from the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School (AP/Sue Ogrocki).