I have lived in Oklahoma all my life, and I have lived through my share of tornadoes. I have never seen one eyeball to eyeball, and to be honest, I don’t need to. I have seen the damage, death and heartache they produce and that is enough for me.
I have a plan. On very rare occasions I make an addendum to that plan, but I do not sway from it, much. This is the way I was taught all my life as a born and bred child of the Sooner State. My family knows my plan, they know where my body is, should they need to pull me out from the debris—and God knows where I am and hears my pleas.
Last Friday, it seemed to me that quite a number of people, either from panic or stupidity or bat crazed insanity forgot their training and took off running.
No where in the training you get here in Oklahoma is the phrase: “Get in your car and outrun it.” The key is to hunker down and pray. The key is to have a good plan before it gets crazy— Not to change it on the fly or because some wild hair has got up your back side. You have to have grit to live here, and if you don’t have it, then my best advice is for you to move to Montana, or the Dakotas, or some other place that gets talked about even less on the evening news than our little plot of flyover earth.
Now we have a kind of strange (and in all honesty, stupid) “meteorologist rivalry” here in Oklahoma City between the two major local stations: KFOR and KWTV. Mike Morgan and Gary England. Everyone seems to have their favorite “go-to” station, and it has been that way since I was a child. Gary England has been around for as long as I can remember, and we all know that he was instrumental in the development of Doppler radar, and he gave the first ever on the air Tornado warning. (And he gives a cameo in the movie “Twister”) He is calm and sure in the storm. Sometimes too calm, for my taste, especially as he gets older, and so I watch Mike Morgan and KFOR, it might also be because KFOR was WKY when I was a kid, and my family watched that channel more than any other, and I just got used to Channel 4. In tornado weather, Mike Morgan is my meteorologist of choice, but I do switch over to Gary England to see what those chasers are seeing when the going gets rough. Any port in the storm and sometimes all ports, pretty much.
But on Friday Night Mike Morgan pissed me off. I wanted to smack him up side the head with a stupid stick.
He told people to try to out run a tornado.
And there was gridlock, and people died. Needless deaths. Now, I am not blaming Mike Morgan for these deaths, but I am going to repeat the words of our own Mayor: “We know better.” I do believe that many people who ran like ninnies were in part doing so because they were shell shocked and the pictures of the week before in Moore Oklahoma were fresh in their minds. EF5 tornadoes will do that to you for a while. Seeing large swaths of complete destruction is mind-boggling. But like I said, you have to have grit to live here. You have to have your PLAN. You cannot give in to your fear, even when your mind is doing the fight or flight adrenaline pumped RUN! thing to you. You cannot go THARN. You are not Tippi Hedrin in the attic scene in “The Birds” —though when you are hiding from a tornado, you can certainly feel like it….
Make a plan, stick to it, hunker down, and pray.