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Tornado near miss brings gratitude

 

By Ginny Underwood
May 25, 2011

First, let me thank God that I was able to wake up this morning, with a roof over my head and the ability to do the most mundane of tasks to get my kids to school. I’m thankful we had a school to go to, electricity and water to begin an otherwise normal day. Many people across Oklahoma this morning are not so lucky.

Storms started moving into my area in Yukon, Okla., about the time I picked up my kids from school at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The sky was grey but no rain. The wind was blowing, but that’s typical this time of year. One of the boys in my older daughter’s class stopped to tell me that half of the school had already been checked out early because of the storms.

We made a dash to the grocery store before heading home. As soon as we got home, I turned on the television to hear the weatherman talking about two tornados on the ground in El Reno, which is just west of us. A little too close for comfort. I told the kids to get ready to go to their grandma’s house. My mother has a storm shelter in her garage. The telephone started ringing, and it was the emergency- management system alerting all Yukon residents to seek shelter. That is a pretty scary call to get. We hit the door, gave the dog a farewell pat on the head and headed out. If my dog didn’t try to kill all other living animals, he might be allowed to come with us. Since that’s not the case, my mother’s dog gets the spot.

The situation was tense, but I think the visions of Joplin, Mo., were floating around in the back of my mind. For me, a certain mindset comes with “tornado season.” Thankfully, most of the time, we have had near misses and perhaps hail at worst. The Joplin situation is a harsh reminder of the destruction and the unpredictability of tornados.

This was the closest call I’ve had in my adult life. The tornado that began near El Reno, Okla., traveled more than 70 miles on the ground, at times a mile wide. It ran a few miles north of our shelter in Yukon. If at any point it had veered to the south, we would be the ones picking through the leftover rubble looking for any precious keepsake we could find.

The homes that were in the way of this massive tornado are now rubble. Unfortunately, this was just one situation in a day that brought many tornado outbreaks across the plains.

From this experience, I realize I have taken many things for granted. I doubt that any of the people who are spending today sifting through rubble, or visiting loved ones at the hospital, or talking to insurance adjusters about their losses woke up yesterday thinking that they could lose everything.

Again, I thank God for this day and all of his blessings.