Today a massive mile-wide tornado struck the town of Moore, Oklahoma. At the time I write this, the death toll stands at 51. Some of these were elementary school children. I pray the number doesn’t go up. I fear that it might. May God comfort all of those who endured great loss today. [edit: Amazingly and thankfully, the day after this tragedy, the number was revised downward to 24 lives lost. This in no way diminishes the void felt by the family and friends of those who died, but is great news to hear since the number originally was expected to climb to 90 or greater]
Moore, OK is about 4 hours west of where we live, in Bentonville, AR. The same storm system that produced this destruction was hurtling towards our town with alarming speed. The problem was that I didn’t realize quickly enough that we were directly in the path of it, nor how quickly it was coming, and when the storm hit we were on the way home from the gym.
I’ve been caught out in some a few crazy thunderstorms before (a couple of times on my bike), but this was the worst I’d seen. And, I’ve never before been out in this type of weather with my two young sons in the car with me. That’s probably what freaked me out most of all. Natalie had met me at the gym and was following me home in our other vehicle.
We drove desperately to get home, directly into the storm’s fury. Visibility was no more than 10 feet at times. Sheets of rain pounded us. The winds were strong enough to feel blowing the car about, seemingly lifting us up off the road. I could see trees swaying and debris flying through the air. Tree limbs were down. Traffic almost came to a standstill, as it was just past rush hour and there were a lot of folks still on the road.
For all we knew, we were literally seconds away from being hurled by a monster rain-wrapped tornado. I felt fear. Nothing will inspire prayer like that kind of fear. Fear for your life. Fear for your family’s life. Natalie and I prayed in earnest on the phone together. I considered momentarily making a u-turn and trying to outrun the storm. Then I realized there wasn’t really anywhere to go and we were helpless and alone at nature’s mercy. Except we weren’t really alone; God was with us. Jacob and Isaac cut up and giggled in the backseat, seemingly oblivious to the terror we were feeling.
Madly we dashed into the house with the boys, through winds threatening to knock us down, lightning, and sheets of rain, and piled atop each other in the laundry room. Our house isn’t very tornado safe. Actually, there are no rooms without an exterior wall. I made a mental promise to sell our house at any price and buy one with a basement or storm cellar. And we prayed some more. The boys took it all in stride and seemed to enjoy our little adventure. As Jacob watched us pray, he said “Everything is going to be ok.” I monitored the storm system until it passed over.
Thank you God for your protection for my family.