I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
May 21, 2013
Dennis called me yesterday just after I got home from school with the kids.
“Are you watching TV?” he asked.
“No, what’s happened?”
“A massive tornado just hit Oklahoma City. It’s horrible. Absolutely horrible.”
I turned on the television and watched in shocked silence as a helicopter camera panned across what looked like a war zone. Meteorologists were calling it the largest tornado in the history of the world.
The coverage kept returning to Plaza Towers Elementary School, which had been completely destroyed by the twister. At the local affiliate in Oklahoma City, anchors continually asked parents to call in and let them know whether or not students were still inside building when the storm hit. Within minutes, one of the anchors had an update.
“We have had word from a parent that the students were inside the building on lockdown.”
I burst into tears.
This scenario has always been one of my worst nightmares. I live in Tennessee’s “Tornado Alley” and my kids have been on severe weather lockdown countless times over the last ten years. During one especially close call, I drove to pick up my children after severe weather rolled through and had to take alternate roads and drive around countless downed power lines and trees just to get to them, three miles away. I didn’t have any information on whether it was a tornado that had caused all the damage and I didn’t know how the elementary school and the preschool across the street had fared. As I drove, my heart was in my throat– But I reasoned with myself that they were safer at school than they would be at home during a storm. We don’t have a basement- just an interior bathroom. Their school, on the other hand, is a massive structure of cinder block and steel.
Just like Plaza Towers Elementary School.
I cried as I watched people run toward the school and start flinging aside debris. I cried hearing the first reporter get to the scene and begin crying himself as he tried to describe the panicked crowd of the parents and teachers and rescue workers around him. I cried hearing about parents who were hysterical, wondering why they were being held back from searching through the leveled school themselves. I would have been the same way. I would have fought tooth and nail to get to my children, to dig them out with my own hands.
The agony of that moment was unbearable.
My children and I said a prayer together as the rescue workers searched for the children in that building. We prayed that God would be with the ones trapped inside, and that He would comfort and calm them. We prayed that the rescue workers would get to them quickly. We prayed that no one was in pain. We prayed for the parents.
Today, my heart is broken for those who didn’t feel their child’s arms around their neck by the end of yesterday. I can’t possibly know the full extent of their pain, but I did feel a small piece of it as I watched, sobbing with them, and all the fears I’ve had about my own children being away from me during a tornado bubbled to the surface.
I continue to say prayers today for Oklahoma, and for all the families who lost loved ones in yesterday’s tornados. I have no adequate words, really, for how I feel right now. Nothing can make it right.
Images via Modern Event Preparedness/Flickr, The National Guard/Flickr
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My brother is living down there with my Niece and Nephew. They are 10 miles from the disaster and I was devastated until I finally heard they were all okay. I’m usually one of those people who can watch the news footage of a disaster and really not be too disturbed, but then I’ll start to cry when I see a hurt dog or a lost cat. (as you can guess, hearing about the horse farm being destroyed was tough for me) but when I saw the school footage my heart stopped. There are no words…I gave my son an extra hug when I put him to bed and knew that I too, would be one of the parents trying to pull an entire building apart to find my child…
I still can’t believe it happened. The last six months are proof that even our elementary schools aren’t impenetrable, whether it’s by “bad guys” or nature.
I have been watching the news and I cannot belive how much has been destroyed and all of the people who have lost their lives. Its such a sad thing that has happened. I live in Fairview,Tn. and right now it looks horrible outside..I just hope and pray that we do not get the same devastation as Oklahoma.
I was definitely nervous when those winds picked up here…
There were tears over here too at the news of the schools. You hope and you hope and you hope they all came through okay…that they got out or there was a shelter or something…and then the official word comes and oh god…and if you’re a parent that makes it even worse because you can’t help but have flashes of picturing yourself in that situation. Part of me wants to be mad that they kept the parents away from the school – God knows I’d be going ballistic trying to get to my kids – but the rescuers have to be able to do their jobs effectively and safely. I cannot imagine having to stand by and wait in the face of all that devastation.
I know. It’s awful– but you’re right. The parents probably would have done more harm than good. They needed power tools to get to get to the kids that survived.
It’s definitely a “sucker punch” right to your heart as a parent bc even though you may have your child in your lap as you see these type of news stories, you can physically feel that second of panic and pain as you think “that could be my child”. The ppl of OK are definitely on my heart and in my prayers.
Yes, that’s exactly it. I can feel other parents’ pain in a way I’ve never been able to feel it before- particularly when my child has been in the same situation.
It is awful. Even though I’m far away from Oklahoma I’m looking for ways to help and donate to them. Know of any?