The Moore Tornado

My name is Alex Niblett and I’m a senior at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. I am majoring in journalism and minoring in International Studies. Just over a week ago, I left Norman and moved back to Tulsa to spend time with my family for the summer and work as an intern at Tulsa Kids Magazine. At this point in my life, I think I’ve really developed an understanding of the importance of time; I don’t know how much I have left, but what I do know is how much I can’t get back.

I remember a time when I was a little girl. One day, I was having a conversation with my dad and I had asked him, “Why doesn’t time work like the VCR? I wish we could just rewind time and go back.” At the time, the idea wasn’t exactly illogical to me, though of course now I understand that’s not how time works at all. I still think about that memory sometimes, because of all the things going on in my life, unlike my grades, or where I decide to go when I put my car in drive, or what I even say in this blog post, I don’t have control of time.

Often times, I think it is easy for us to forget that tragedies and unfortunate events can happen to us, sometimes in the most unexpected ways. While it is certainly not a good idea to live in fear of what may happen next, we should try our best to live in happiness, and enjoy everything that surrounds us as much as we can.

I’ve noticed a trend that comes about almost every single time a negative or devastating event takes place. People put down their mental egotistical guns, they let go of bitter feelings they’ve held on to for so long and they set aside their differences with others. They dive into the community that is suffering and try to help in any way they can. I think sometimes, these sorts of events have this unexplainable way of bringing people together, for it stimulates the mind to clear away all of the negativity on the inside and focus on what matters most: offering love, care, aid, and a helping hand.

The reactions I’ve seen from people across America after this difficult weekend of bad tornado weather warms my heart. While my heart aches for those who have lost their loved ones or their irreplaceable belongings, I’m beyond pleased, and thankful, to see so many wonderful and caring people sending their love and support to Oklahoma- I mean it when I say it means the world.

As an OU student, I’m extremely familiar with Moore, OKC, Shawnee, and the surrounding areas. Those places surround my school: my second home. Our community is like my extended family, and so many dear friends of mine live throughout those parts of Oklahoma. As I sat and watched the news at home in Tulsa yesterday, I felt sick to my stomach as I saw the death toll rise and rise. My twitter and facebook accounts were being flooded with updates on the storm and tornado. Many friends were just a few miles away from the large giant, and that was WAY too close for comfort. I sat there worried about them all, hoping that they would be okay once the tornado died. Thankfully, they all were, as well as their families.

Of course, not all were as fortunate as my friends were. In a revised update [As of today], courtesy of ABC news, the current death toll is 24 lives lost, nine of those being children. At this time, rescue workers and first responders are working hard to search for any remaining survivors in the aftermath of the EF-4 tornado.

Several of my friends and their family members are currently in Moore trying to help out in any way they can. While some friends are getting Red Cross certified today to help aid those who are suffering, others are volunteering at local churches surrounding the area to serve food and provide current shelter.

Mentioning shelter, I want to just say how proud I am of my school. Like many other unaffected buildings and establishments, OU has opened its doors to those who need shelter and care. My friends and I received several text messages from the school alerting us of the weather conditions, as well as the help being offered at OU in case students are now left homeless. It means so much to be able to say you’re a part of, and from, such a strong community who reacts and jumps in to help so quickly.It’s honestly a weird feeling to be in Tulsa at the moment, because while I am so glad I wasn’t in the OKC/Moore area yesterday, a huge part of me feels like I need to be there. I need to go back and help rebuild what was torn down. I need to go back and wrap my arms around those who have lost so much. You know?

I will be going to Norman this weekend, and while there, I plan on trying to help the Moore area in any way I can. Even though I was a couple hours away from the tornado and its destructive path, the pain and sadness still found a route to my heart. Some friends sent me pictures of the Warren Theater after the tornado hit. It looks so sad and torn apart. I know it can be rebuilt it and/or fixed, but it’s always difficult to see a place you have fond memories at just damaged like so. Hearing about the elementary schools that were hit pretty badly just makes my heart ache at the thought of the scared children and faculty there. Cars flipped upside down, homes shredded to mere splinters… it’s tough to see, and tough to accept.

The love and support that has been flowing into the state yesterday and today has just been remarkable. While this event has stolen the nation’s attention, it shows how much people listen and how much they really do care. Friends of mine from different states across the US have been texting and calling me last night and this morning to check up on me, making sure I was okay. The gestures aren’t only reassuring, they also touch my heart, & I know I can speak for the rest of Oklahoma when I say we all sincerely appreciate it.

Last night, one of my younger sisters [Natalie] graduated high school. She went to Jenks High School and will be attending OU in the fall. [Good choice, right?!] My household was filled with family from out of town: some family we haven’t seen in years. It was so nice to spend time with them and catch up on the many months of our lives that one another didn’t know much about.

Natalie’s graduation was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. While I sat there in my seat at the Mabee Center at Oral Roberts, I looked around at the many families there with us, waiting to see their child/relative graduate with my sister. The ceremonial music came on, and after listening to a few well-written speeches, the students’ names were being called and eventually I heard my sister’s name. We cheered so loud and met up with her afterwards to congratulate her. It was such a joyful, accomplishing moment. She just graduated high school, crazy!!! Now she’s on to a new chapter in her life, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

If you’re wondering why I brought up my sister’s graduation, it’s because I have two points to make. 1. Thanks to me having this internship in Tulsa, and thanks to her graduation date, I wasn’t in the OKC area. I was originally going to be in Norman for the school newspaper staff training that was scheduled for yesterday, but due to those things just mentioned, I couldn’t make it… and I’m GLAD I wasn’t anywhere near that tornado. 2. This is the most important point. In the moment of graduation and the celebrations that followed for my sister last night, I couldn’t help but think about those children’s’ lives that were lost yesterday. They never will walk the stage to receive their high school diploma… and their parents will never be able to watch their babies grow up. While the tornado was of course in NO ONE’s control, my point is that sometimes reality slaps us in the face at times like this and we need to remember to never take the special moments in our life for granted. It’s important to acknowledge and be thankful for what you do have because not everyone in this world is as fortunate as you are.

While it cost the lives of many innocent children and adults and it destroyed much of the town of Moore [& part of the OKC area], no tornado can or will ever destroy the strong, national communal bond Americans have. This is an important reminder to all that we need to try our best to live life each day with an optimistic, appreciative attitude and show affection to those we love often. Like I said before, time is not in our control, and you never know when something may occur like this again. So please take a lesson away from this event. Please remember the little things, like remember to say “I love you” before you get off the phone with your loved ones; You never know when it may be your last time telling them. This is not meant to be a depressing or morbid lesson- I see it as a positive one because, if you’re able to read this blog post right now, it means you still have time to live life to the fullest and appreciate what you have; those who lost their lives no longer do. Just be thankful.

Photo Credit: [My Friend] Zac Smith, OU Journalism Graduate. Taken May 20, 2013. Location: Moore, Okla.

Categories: Editor’s Blog