Part 1,
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Trek  Across  Moore

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Trek Across Moore - Part 1

(May 20, 2013)           (Rev F: 5/4/2020)

May 20, 2013 was a very bad day. I forget what I was doing when my wife said, "Hey, come look at this." The weatherman had laid out a big colored blob on the tv screen on top of a map of Moore, OK. (I live in Weatherford.) The blob was color-coded, with the middle colored violet, and the weatherman said, "This is the center of what looks to be a very big, very violent tornado. This black line shows its current projected path."

I thought "Uh, Oh" because that line went right over my sister's house as well as, just a few blocks further, my niece and her husband's house. These had both been spared by close calls in the previous Moore tornado, but this time it looked really bad -- or at least I had a really bad feeling about it -- bad enough that I couldn't see anything to do but jump in my pickup and head that way.

In writing this narrative, I re-read, wrote and re-wrote the previous sentence over and over, trying to get it to make some sense. After all, what did I think my being there could do about any of what turned into a state and pretty much a national emergency? I still don't know the answer to that question, but if I had it to do over again, I'd do the same thing. It seemed obvious then and now that even if I could do little if I was there, I definitely could do nothing by just watching it on tv from here in Weatherford and hoping for the best.

And I did have a little experience from the aftermath of the Woodward tornado of about a year ago. For me it had started this same way, with the storm track leading right over the home of two old friends, Haskell and Cordelia Moore (no relation to the town of the same name). I had reluctantly called them to see if they were alright. I say reluctantly, because you see this kind of thing a lot in Oklahoma, and usually the storms don't actually go where anybody thinks they will. Or maybe you're just lucky. The Moores are older folks and I thought the most likely outcome of me calling them at near midnight would only be to needlessly wake them up. But for whatever reason, I placed the call, and when I did a voice I had never heard before (a neighbor, as it turns out) immediately answered the phone, and said, "Haskell and Cordelia are going to be all right, though Haskell's bleeding pretty bad. We're trying to get an ambulance out here, but we're having a lot of trouble because the ambulances can't get through. The house is a mess." This was their beautiful retirement home they'd moved into 30 years ago after Haskell's retirement from the oil fields.

In the next few days I learned a lot about how things work - and sometimes don't work - in the aftermath of a tornado. [To be complete, I need to report that the Moores got well, their house didn't, and with the help of family and friends it is now being rebuilt, and they are doing okay.]

Also, I had a plan. As I drove toward Oklahoma City, I worked it up as best I could using my limited knowledge of Moore's geography. My sister, Deanna Ward, lived on Ridgeway Street, a street name that gave me trouble throughout the day. I was a 63 year old heart patient with a bad short-term memory. It seems like if I have trouble remembering something, usually a word, it continues to dog me no matter how many times I hear it. But on the plus side, I have a great sense of direction, an asset that was to help a lot over the next couple of days, and I've been to Deanna's house many times over the years.

For those of you who don't know Moore any better than I did, let me say that at that time I placed my sister's house in relation to the I-35 exit at SW 19th Street (also the location of the big Walmart at that exit). From these landmarks, Ridgeway street is about 5 blocks west and 5 blocks north.

[Now that I know Moore a little better than I did at the beginning of that horrible day, let me tell you that I now place Ridgeway street and her house as just east of the now famous (no, infamous) Plaza Tower elementary school. Perhaps a more descriptive term for this location in Moore might be "Ground Zero".]

And I usually go to her house via I35. But I was fairly certain that any attempt to get there on this day via I35 would be useless. It's not much of a mystery why, but still, I think it's a sad fact that despite all the money, planning, etc. that we say we put