Tuesday, May 28, 2013


On May 20, 2013 a devastating tornado ripped through Moore, Oklahoma. Authorities say 24 people, including eight children, perished in the twister.  The storm hit on the second consecutive day of tornadoes in Oklahoma, packing peak winds of 200 mph.  The tornado spent 40 minutes traveling 17 miles on the ground and devastated an estimated 30 square miles that included neighborhoods and two elementary schools.  Emergency workers have pulled more than 100 survivors from the debris of homes, schools and a hospital.

Below you can see the path the tornado took.

In these aerial photos you can see the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., before and after it was hit by the massive tornado. Seven second- and third-graders from this school were among the 24 killed in the tornado.

A friend is in Moore, Oklahoma right now giving out meals to the victims and also the volunteers.  Here are a few photos that she has taken.

The devastating tornado of May 20, as bad as it was, is not the worst tornado to hit Moore.  On May 3, 1999 Moore was hit with an extremely powerful F5 tornado in which the highest wind speeds ever measured, 302 miles per hour, were recorded by a Doppler on Wheels radar. Throughout its one hour and 25 minute existence, the tornado covered 38 miles, destroying thousands of homes, killing 41 people and leaving $1 billion in losses behind.

Tornadoes cause tremendous amounts of damage.  I know this all too well because on April 9, 2009 a tornado hit my town of Mena, Arkansas.  Fortunately for us neither our home or our business were damaged, but over 600 homes were damaged when a F3 Tornado, with 136-165 mph winds, hit Mena devastating a 25 block area. 100 homes were totally destroyed and over 600 damaged.  3 people lost their lives in the storm.  Here are some photos that I took two days after the tornado.



















Here is what I wrote about the tornado two weeks after the storm.

It has been over two weeks since my town of Mena was severely damaged by an F3/F4 tornado. I have not been to the damaged side of town for two weeks. Because I install auto glass I have been busier than I have ever been in my life. I am trying to get as many vehicles usable for people as I possibly can. The destruction of homes, cars and property is beyond my ability to describe. I have been getting up at 5:30 A.M. to go to work, and working until after 10:00 P.M. I come home, take a shower and crawl into bed and the next thing I know the alarm is going off.

I have never been so thankful for a Sabbath day as I was this week. God knew what he was doing when he created the Sabbath day and told men to rest from their labors on the Sabbath. Today has been wonderfully refreshing for me physically and spiritually. I had the first good nights sleep I have had in a while, and was so blessed by our Sabbath School class and Pastor Dan's sermon.

Mena Tornado 2009 47

This afternoon we drove into the damaged part of town and took some photos. The sights were very depressing as I thought of how many people in my small town have been affected by this disaster. Officials estimate that over 600 homes have been damaged. As I surveyed the damage today I feel that the estimates are probably low. With the amount of homes damaged I'm sure that 2,000 people or more were affected by the storm. The population of Mena is between 5 and 6 thousand, so nearly half of the population are dealing with the aftermath of the storm.

Mena Tornado 2009 44

This photo really brought to my thoughts what people are having to deal with. Many of the damaged homes are still being occupied because the people have no place to go. As I was taking photos from the street this little girl was walking into her house. Earlier we had seen a young girl standing in the doorway of her damaged home looking out into the street with a forlorn look on her face. You can multiply her feelings by a thousand.

Mena Tornado 2009 35

What is amazing in a disaster like this one is the extraordinary amount of work it is to clean up. These pictures were taken 16 days after the tornado, and there have been so many people working so hard with the clean up, and it still looks like this. Our tour of the town today left us feeling depressed and overwhelmed.

Mena Tornado 2009 54

As we drove through town we passed the Salvation Army location. The Salvation Army does so much for the people of this town, but their building was damaged and is unusable. Even though their building isn't usable, they have been helping here in town along with so many other churches and agencies. The volunteers come from many different churches and organizations. The help and support have been utterly amazing. I came across this thank you note written on a house that says it all.

Mena Tornado 2009 33

My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the Oklahoma tornadoes this year.

The ABC Wednesday Meme is a fun way to see some great blogs.


  1. such TERRIBLE destruction!

  2. Great post, albeit devastating. As a very young girl I lived in Ohio, and I still remember one night being woken up by my dad to run to the cellar to wait-out a tornado. While I was way too young to be scared, I can still 'feel' my parents' fear. We were very lucky, but he houses around ours were destroyed, trees uprooted.

    My heart and prayers go out to all who were affected by the latest devastation.

  3. I just can't even begin to imagine what being in such an awful tornado would be like.
    So grateful for the First Responders and volunteers giving of themselves to help those in need.

  4. incredible damage...and tragic for families who lost loved ones and their homes.

    T is for...

  5. Unbelievable to see the damage. I can't even imagine how emotional difficult it must be as you begin to put your home and life back together after such devastation.

  6. Whew! First of all, Richie, I'm so glad you and yours are okay. It was definitely one terrifically terrible tornado and wreaked havoc everywhere it went. I sure hope everyone is able to get back to normal soon.

    abcw team

  7. Our church has sent 2 Vans loaded with supplies and money to help from here in Kansas City. Such a horrible loss of life and property.

  8. It is terrible how much damage a tornado can cause. So sad about the loss of life. I am glad you are safe and hope you stay that way. Carver, ABC Wed. Team

  9. It is truly an awful tragedy, but it also brings out the best in those that are moved to help. I love the note on the house.

  10. Mother Nature could really be so scary when she behaves likes this. I'm with Bettyl on the tragedy bringing out 'the best in those who are moved to help.'

  11. So much tragedy - it is heartening to see the response of people who want to help (and are helping). I was moved by your account of the tornado in your own town.

  12. in face of such destruction such hope and mutual help - thanks for sharing - these photos mean more than the media coverage.

  13. Very moving post, Richie. At times like this we all feel so helpless, but then we get out our checkbooks or our hammers (if we're close enough) and do what we can. I lived through the tornado outbreak in Alabama a couple of years ago and know just how frightening tornadoes can be. Thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected in Moore.

  14. Thank you for posting on tornadoes. They can do so much damage in such a short period of time. I hadn't realized Moore had been hit by an even more destructive tornado in as recent as 1999.

    I was also sad to hear of the tornado that the residents of your town had experienced.

    Thoughts and prayers continue for all residents.

  15. The destructive power of nature is humbling to behold. How people rebound from all this destruction is truly amazing.

  16. Oh gosh . To have this happen is awful.
    I think I would build me a shack out of all the debris in the back yard but I wouldnt let my kids inside those buildings. It's just too dangerous.
    what horrible memories these kids will have now.