Residents digging out after tornadoes hit Midwest
WOODWARD, Okla. (AP) – Bleary-eyed residents were scouring through damaged homes across the Midwest on Sunday after a violent storm system unleashed dozens of overnight tornadoes, killing at least five people in Oklahoma, leveling homes in Iowa and Kansas, and cutting power to hundreds of thousands.
More than 100 tornadoes had been reported across the region by daybreak, according to the National Weather Service. Although the storm system was weakening as it crawled into Arkansas and Missouri and additional tornadoes were unlikely, forecasters warned that strong thunderstorms were expected as far east as Michigan.
Five people were killed and more than two dozen were injured in Oklahoma, where a suspected tornado ripped through a mobile home park in Woodward, about 140 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. Streets in the 12,000-resident town were left dotted with mangled vehicles, toppled power lines and leveled buildings.
Retired firefighter Marty Logan said he spotted the tornado when it knocked down power lines, causing flashes of light, and saw a radio tower’s blinking lights go black shortly after midnight. He later saw a man emerge from a twisted, wrecked sport utility vehicle that had been tossed along the side of the road.
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Residents digging out after tornadoes hit Midwest
When I was a kid we lived in Oklahoma City for several years. My father had his business there, an oilfield service business, and Oklahoma was where the most business took place and it gave the option of making the most money at that particular period in time.
My mother was a Cajun from Louisiana and she was terrified of tornadoes. It’s not like we didn’t have tornadoes in Louisiana, we did, but they weren’t a regular occurrence like they were in Oklahoma.
Back in the early 1960′s Oklahoma was known as *Tornado Alley*, long before that name caught on with the media. We lived on the southwest side of OKC, out by 59th and May Ave. back in the days when this was one of the better places to live if you took Nichols Hills out of the equation.
We had a nice house, it was well appointed, with just about everything you could possibly want, except for one thing.
It didn’t have a tornado shelter.
As I said, my mother was TERRIFIED of tornadoes and after the 1st year we lived in OKC she approached my father and told him, “Fred, you either get us a tornado shelter built or you can come to Louisiana on weekends and see me and the kids, because that is where we will be…”
She was VERY serious too! Mom NEVER issued an ultimatum unless she was serious.
So, in a few days we had the builders out and they went over plans for a tornado shelter with the folks.
If I remember correctly it was going to be about $1,500.00 to build this in-ground shelter, BUT WAIT, “for the mere cost of only $2,000.00 more we can build a *fallout shelter*, fully vented and buried VERY deep.” Billy Mays would have been proud of these guys.
Remember, this was the early 1960′s and the Cold War was a very frightening reality, and living in OKC placed you right in the middle of the bull’s-eye on Russian targeting maps because of Tinker AFB, Vance AFB and several nuclear silos that were in the vicinity.
In about 2 weeks we were the only kids on the block that had a nuclear fallout shelter.
The shelter was deep too, there was 4 feet of dirt just to get to the roof of the thing and then the roof was a 4 foot thick piece of steel reinforced concrete. The walls were 2 feet thick and steel reinforced too. The door was right in front of our front porch because, you see, we had this shelter in the FRONT YARD. That was a very unique thing, but the house already being built, and my father, not wanting to have to take down and replace the fence, well, to him, that was a logical solution.
This was a great tornado shelter. As a nuclear protection facility? Not so much.
The door was a wooden door that had been covered in galvanized sheet metal. There were 2 steel pipes sticking out of the ground maybe 3 or 4 feet high with little steel *hats* on them. This was the ventilation system and the hand cranked ventilator was going to provide us with clean, fresh air to breathe, because, you know, radioactive fallout only falls straight DOWN, it doesn’t turn corners.
That is what the shelter salesman guy told my folks, I guess that was the accepted thing in the 1960′s, I mean, what did WE know? We were just folks that KNEW our government and the shelter people ALL had OUR best interest at heart!
Mom had some Army cots, bed sheets, pillows, a chemical toilet, an emergency radio, a day or 2 of snacks and a gallon or 2 of water down there.
I guess in her mind the nuclear war was going to be over in a *flash*, pun intended.
Seriously, we spent many nights in that shelter. If the weather service even hinted that there might possibly be a tornado ANYWHERE in the state of Oklahoma, in the shelter we went.
Looking back, the folks were trying their best to protect us, and obviously, we lived through it all, and I don’t mean to make *lite* of the storms that have hit, but when you look back at the efforts my folks went through in the 1960’s, and knowing what we know about nuclear blasts today, a simple tornado shelter would have been a lot cheaper, and just as affective.
I wish the good folks of Oklahoma and other affected areas well, they are a hearty bunch, they are Americans and they WILL work to help each other and rebuild, because that is what WE do, we HELP each other.