Part 1,
Page 4 of 6

Trek  Across  Moore





bit.  Luckily, when all this started, I had on my gym clothes - short pants and all - so I could stay pretty cool, and I had brought along a spare set of them wrapped in a towel. I had the thought that if I ran into anyone who was bleeding badly, maybe I could stop the blood flow with my towel. And if not, wherever I ended up at the end of the day, I had a clean set of clothes. This roll fit quite nicely into a gap in the bike's front handlebars.

However, at this point I developed what I think they call "Tunnel Vision". (I'll jump ahead here and tell you that I was on SW19th Street and didn't even realize it.) I don't remember looking up at the street signs. Along the way, the damage had steadily increased; I saw a lot of this damage, but somehow it didn't fully register. Looking at the map today, I see that I went right by the Briarwood Elementary School without being cognizant of it.

One thing I'll always remember, though, was people walking out into the street to give me water, a candy bar, and such. That makes a big difference, not only in its affect, but it feels like it's a statement that "We're right here with you; we're all in this together." And that was true throughout my experience. It seems like the other civilians were tremendously helpful. Oh, don't get me wrong. During my trek, I had experiences both positive and negative with police, firemen, and so on, mostly positive. But for my money, it's the people of Moore and similar communities who are tops. Mostly, I think, because they are obviously doing whatever it is they're doing because they want to. But also, I believe, because they don't seem to have that air of authority that makes them want to shuffle you around and tell you what to do. This attitude of some who are in a position of authority causes them, rather than to "Protect and Serve", to actually interfere with civilians who are only there to help.

I know what many of you are thinking, "They have to do that because so many people are idiots and thieves." But you're wrong. Absolutely wrong. I may be wrong too, but I don't think so. (I will, however agree that people are idiots when it comes to what they do when they get in their cars; I'll give you that.) But for what they did in Moore during and after the tornado, my experience was that plain old civilians, young and old, were helpful, brave, honest, and had really good judgment. That last part is the part I think the so-called "Emergency Planners" could improve upon in their planning for such events.

So I finally looked up at an intersection, and saw Walmart across to my left. I was suddenly aware that I had overshot my mark. I was at SW 19th and Telephone Road. I thought, "Oh, well. I'll get to Ridgeway from the southeast instead of the from the northwest." I had only overshot by about one-half mile.

This last part was uphill, so I got off the bike and pushed it. For a minute, I thought about leaving it there and coming back for it later. But after it had been so helpful to me, I wasn't even going to consider having to tell its owner I had lost it.

So I started uphill through the large trailer court that lies east of my destination. It had turned dark. This was odd, because I don't remember it turning dark, only that it suddenly was dark. (That tunnel vision thing?) The trailers looked odd -- like they hadn't been blown away, but kind of like they were gutted. Like the tornado had come in through the windows, swirled around inside and destroyed them from the inside out. I know that doesn't make much sense, but I want to give you my honest impression, and that's the way I remember them.

When I finally got to the top of the hill, near the Ridgeway neighborhood, I felt like I had landed on a planet that was unfamiliar to me. My optimism didn't go away immediately, I think because somehow my mind rejected what I was seeing. By now, you've all seen it, so I won't try to elaborate. But this was the first I had seen it, especially in person. And it was blackout dark, so maybe I convinced myself that it just looked worse in the total darkness. What I did see looked like the pictures of Hiroshima, Japan, minus the burned effect.

I had not considered the idea that whenever I got close to my sister's house I might not even recognize her street,  much less her house.  But  what  I saw now was