There have been 48 long hours now to try to grasp the magnitude of what happened to Moore, Okla.
Just 24 hours before a massive tornado struck the town about 200 miles to our south, my family and I were hunkered down in the basement of my northeast Wichita home while we listened to updates of a “massive, destructive wedge tornado on the ground approaching Mid-Continent Airport.”
The home that I own in West Wichita sits on the northwestern final approach path to Mid-Continent Airport. Through the years, one of the fascinating things for kids and grandkids has been watching the planes come overhead and seeing the landing gear come down.
Had the storm on the ground proceeded as expected, it most certainly would have taken out that home, the first and only home I’ve owned in Wichita, the one where my kids lived when they graduated middle school and high school; where my daughter’s wedding reception was held, where my oldest grand-daughter came home from the hospital and learned to walk and talk – where my youngest grandkids experienced the first home of their lives.
As events unfolded, the funnel that threatened Wichita did not reach ground. Instead, we got pouring rain – up to 1.5 inches in 10 minutes, enough to flood streets all over southern and western Wichita. We got hail, up to golf ball and bigger. We got wind, up to 60 mph in parts of the region.
We did not get the whirling, destructive 200+ mph winds that hit Moore. But we could have. We dodged a bullet. It wasn’t because we are better or more worthy than the people of Moore. We were just lucky. The atmospheric soup just didn’t slop over on us this one time.
I think this makes it especially incumbent upon us to remember that it wasn’t any redeeming quality of ours that spared us and targeted Moore – it was the luck of the Universe.
And that gives us a special, almost sacred obligation to put our whole hearts and minds, and yes – pocketbooks – with the people of Moore, Okla. as they deal with this horrific tragedy. May we be a little more tolerant, a little more resilient, a little more forgiving, a little more loving and a lot more accepting as we open our hearts, minds and checkbooks to help these neighbors recover.
Yesterday, it could have been us. Tomorrow, it still might be.