When I lived in Ohio for a couple of years as a kid, a tornado touched down in nearby Willoughby. Since I was from Southern California, I was accustomed to the threat of the Big One, and earthquakes still don’t frighten me, though they should. But a tornado, a spire of wind and debris shooting hundreds of miles per hour from the sky? That was terrifying. No one died in Willoughby’s tornado. I glimpsed a little corner of damage in the town. I was informed about the safety of basements.
Yesterdays tornado in Oklahoma was unprecedented. Winds hit 300 miles per hour, and a two-mile wide monster barreled down on a school. People, many of them children, are dead, and many more are injured, and others may still be trapped. I am so sorry for the families of the victims, for the victims themselves.
I know people get angry when others get political after a tragedy. But I think it is healthy to get political, so long as you aren’t exploitative (which is a fine line to walk sometimes). People should mourn and pray and love each other and do everything they can to find some comfort right now. Maybe there is nothing we can do to prevent this in the future, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, that we shouldn’t ask.
I was reading through The New York Times comment section this morning and wanted to share these two:
“I am a school psychologist for Moore Public Schools. I escaped with my life, but as I write this, I fear for my students. My heart aches for the parents who are left with the knowledge that their child died alone in the debris of not only one of the poorest schools in the Moore Public School system, but one of the the most poorly constructed.
I am angry tonight. After our recent record of devastating tornadoes and lives lost, there is no excuse for a public school in a tornado-prone area not to have been retrofitted with a “safe room” large enough to accommodate all occupants. Unlike past years when tornadoes were more of a nuisance than a threat in Oklahoma, we no longer have the luxury of scurrying to a closet or interior room for safety. Meterologists tell us unequivocally to go underground, go to a safe room, or basement, and if none of these is an option, to get in the car and drive away from the tornado.
Thanks to our meterologists, we have plenty of warning of impending tornadoes. The people of Moore had at least half an hour to an hour to get to safety. However, the children and teachers who died today had no such option. Sadly, they were forced to take shelter in the sheetrocked hallways of buildings shabbily built in the 1960s. No basement. No safe room. A death trap. Perhaps it is time to rethink our priorities and begin re-directing money toward, not only better educating our children, but keeping them safe in school–and not just from crazed gunmen.”
“This is the time for politics – politics are costing lives and livings – to suppress comments about politics is to suppress a discussion of how lives could be saved. Those of us who recognize this and press for political reason are those who are most likely to have a positive effect on future horrors. Politics has created this problem and is the only means by which it can be effectively addressed. Politics is prayer.”
-Jennifer, North Carolina