Part 1,
Page 2 of 6

Trek  Across  Moore





into emergency planning, you can count on the fact that the first things to break down in any emergency situation will be access to our main routes of transportation and communications of all sorts, both public and civil. (This includes the now ubiquitous cell phones.)

So my plan was to come in through the backdoor. I reasoned that I'd have a better chance of getting there by taking I44, the HE Bailey Turnpike, the one that goes to Lawton, south to 149th Street. Then I'd take 149th east several miles to where, through the magical silliness of our decisions concerning street naming, it becomes - voila - SW19th street in Moore, the landmark street. SW19th is also, unfortunately, a portion of the track of Moore's several tornados, including this one. Still, it seemed this route might give me a better chance of not getting tied up in traffic.

Of course, it's easy to see that my plan had several major flaws. This became obvious to me as I traveled south on 240 in the area of Will Rogers Airport. The two lanes of 240 that turn south onto I44 had already come to a standstill. So I purposely sailed right on past there and instead took the South May exit off 240. But south May also was clogged to almost a standstill. So I turned west, went under I44 and drove out into the country a couple of miles west and then turned south again. By so doing I reached SW149th (Moore's SW19th) in a fairly straightforward manner.

However, I was about to realize that I had already made a huge mistake; I had done it before I even left home. If I had thought, I would have tossed my bicycle into the back of my pickup before I started out. This was a mistake for which I would pay dearly.

And so, as I started east on 149th, most of my plan quickly unraveled. Traffic stopped, and somewhere up ahead they were turning cars around. Still, very few of us pulled out of line ahead of time. I think we all had the idea that we could talk our way through the road block, you know, saying things like "the storm's over and I have family up ahead whom I need to assist." But once a so-called "First Responder" gets an idea in his head, sometimes an idea placed there by his administrator, such common sense pleas often fall on deaf ears. If you don't believe me, consider this: in the final moments before the twin towers fell on 9/11, folks in those buildings, who were only minutes away from crumbling to personal extinction, were still being told by civil servants the same information they had received ever since the planes struck, which was, "Stay where you are. We're aware of your situation, and are taking all actions necessary."

I thought briefly about going back to I44, and then south. But in my mind I saw the river, and driving down south almost to Norman and then back up I35 south to the north, and that was a no go. So I asked a lady standing in her front yard if she had anywhere I could leave my pickup. That way I could walk or hitchhike on up 149th street. This was still America, after all, and it's hard for anyone to keep you from walking wherever you want to go. But the lady didn't have room for me to park, and I'm kind of glad now, because looking at 149th on the map, I can now see that to get where I was going was farther down the road than I had thought -- about 5 miles. And even without obstructions, that would take quite awhile.

So I bit the bullet and turned north, the only way I could go. This street was also fairly clogged with two-way traffic, had no parking spots along the edge, and also had a lot of water running across its low spots. When I reached them, I sped up and charged through the water. This was quite a risk, because if my little S10 pickup stalled, I had a real problem because you can't leave your vehicle blocking a crowded road. And I had better things to do than to tend to a stalled vehicle.

Luckily, I reached 134th street, where I turned east again and was surprised to find that I could make it quite a way down that street, about two miles. When I got as far east as Western, my driving came to an end. 134th street was blocked ahead, well before it became SW4th street in Moore (that street naming thing again). I didn't know how far exactly I had yet to go, but I knew it was south and east, and I felt like I had a pretty good shot at it from there. And there was a McDonald's on the northeast side of the intersection that even though power was off, it had its doors open. The manager there said in a very friendly way that it was okay to leave my pickup there. This was no small deal because I was leery of leaving it where it might get in someone's way and had no idea when I might be able to retrieve it.

So I set out on foot south on Western Avenue. Western had lots of emergency vehicle traffic, and before long, I stopped a police car and asked the officer (his name was Murphy - I don't know why I remember that) if he could give me a ride to my sister's house. He seemed irritated, and asked where that was and I pointed southeast and then gave him my "5 blocks north and west from Walmart" reference. He didn't seem impressed. He said, "You're not even in Moore." Not knowing what that had to do with anything, I said, "Well, I can't be far from Moore." (I think now that Western Avenue is the western-most border of the city of Moore, but I never did understand what difference that made to the cop.)