It must come as a surprise to people who aren't from here when they hear people who have lived through such destructive storms say things like, "It's just part of living here."
It also surprises me when I'm reminded that people think of Oklahoma City as a hard-luck town, but why wouldn't they? Just about all anyone who isn't from here has heard about our capital in my lifetime has been tragedy on a national scale, whether it has been bombings or lethal storms. In the first Moore tornado of 1999, wind speeds were measured at 312 mph — among the fastest every recorded on the earth. The one that hit Moore last night struck with 600 times the destructive power of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
I can assure you, though, that those of us who call this state home don't see things the same way. Every one of us who has lived here for any significant period of time know what it is like to go through a series of storms similar to the ones that came through May 20. As I type this, there's still thunder rumbling over my head, and there will probably be more alerts as the night goes on.
We know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. We learned the names of many of the state's smaller towns (like Greasy, Bushyhead and Hogshooter) by watching National Weather Service radar displays on TV. We know where you're supposed to go (basements, interior rooms), and where you're not supposed to go (highway overpasses, near windows) in a tornado. We know all the familiar meteorologist buzzwords, like "rotation," "rain-wrapped" and "straight-line winds." Sometimes we joke about it. Black humor helps take a lot of the pressure off.
Last year, when a series of earthquakes rumbled through the central and eastern parts of the state, I remember thinking that I didn't have a clue what to do in an earthquake. Had it been a tornado, I'd have immediately known how to respond, but neither me nor anyone in my family had the slightest idea how to handle an earthquake.
It's because we know what it is like to go through these storms that makes it easier to live here. Not just because we tend to get numb to all the warnings from time to time, but also because storms like the one that hit Moore, a prosperous and populated suburb of Oklahoma City, remind us of how serious these storms can be. They remind us of times when we pulled together to help out others who had to put their towns back together.
I remember three tornado seasons ago, it was Joplin, Missouri that was forever changed by a tornado. The very next day, there were big trucks in front of my grocery store with people gathering up food to ship across the state line where it was needed. Boxes were set out at my office, and quickly filled with badly needed supplies. Blood drives sprang up everywhere, with hand-painted signs facing busy roadways. On social media, people gave numbers and addresses of where you could donate your money, your goods or your time. When other need help, we step up — because we know what it's like.
This time around, the people of Missouri will be helping us, I'm sure. As will Texans and Kansans and Arizonans and Californians, New Yorkers and people from around the world. Knowing that others will be there for you when it counts is part of what makes living here such a great thing.
From Electric Light & Power and POWERGRID International magazines, our thanks go out to the emergency responders who are conducting search and rescue in Oklahoma, as well as to the utility staff and work crews laboring to restore electricity to those who have been cut off by severe weather.
If you are so inclined, you can offer something to help the relief efforts in Oklahoma, you can donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund here .