Where were you May 3, 1999?
Do you remember the day? Most Okies do. That’s the day sixty-six tornadoes killed 36 people (36 according to News on 6 this morning, and 44 people according to other sources) and destroyed 2300 homes. And one of those cyclones was an F5–some of the fastest winds ever recorded on earth–261-318 mph!
An F5 causes strong frame houses to be lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters; trees are debarked; steel re-inforced concrete structures are badly damaged.
G-Man and I were in the big city on that May 3rd. As we listened to the radio, we kept hearing about the tornadoes hitting our state, and I couldn’t help but think about the people I know in those towns. So many of the writers I’ve met over the years at the Oklahoma Writers Federation conference were from that area or close by.
How many of them would lose their homes? Their belongings? Their lives?
Lots of people prayed hard that day. I know I stayed at it for most of the afternoon and evening, petitioning for people I knew and those I didn’t.
Remember that old saying, “There are no atheists in fox holes?” I have a feeling the same goes for tornado shelters–what ever, when ever and where ever they might be.
Very easy Movie quote.
“Is there an F5?”
[Everyone goes dead silent]
“What would that be like?”
“The Finger of God.”
Can you name it?