You get tornadoes. Sometimes you get a lot of them. I have lived in Oklahoma for a total of 11 years and I have to admit the last couple of weeks have been trying. Now don't get me wrong, I love living here and storm season can be exciting but I like it much better from a distance. We were fortunate and were not hit by any of the tornadoes but we did have some close calls.
On Sunday the 19th a tornado was headed for our area so we packed up the bug out bags and headed down the road to our neighbor who has a storm shelter. The next day, the day Moore was hit by the EF5, we had to make a run for the shelter again. I had hoped the worst was over but unfortunately we had another week of severe weather. Friday Oklahoma City and El Reno took the brunt of those storms and to add insult to injury we had flooding after that. All we need now is an eathquake. I'd better not say anything because knowing my luck we'll have one!
After the F5 many people were asking the question, why would anyone want to live where you can have such powerful storms? Why doesn't everyone have storm shelters or basements? Why were the kids in school if we knew there was a chance for severe weather? Well, I will give you the answer to those questions as well as my own reasons for living here.
First, let's look at why more people don't have some sort of storm shelter. To put in an in ground shelter costs about $3, 000. An above ground safe room costs about $5, 000. Most homes in Oklahoma don't have basements simply because it can add considerably to the cost of a house. In many cases you need to have someone who knows how to properly build a basement so you don't have leakage problems as well as other issues. Because our frost line is only about 18 inches deep, we don't have to dig that deep to put in a foundation for a house. Because of the added cost to dig deeper to put in a basement, it just doesn't make a lot of financial sense for many people to add that to their house plan. For many people, the cost of a shelter is simply too expensive and so they have to do without.
Why were the kids in school? Because it was a school day and it's just stupid to think we are going to stop everything every time there is the threat of severe weather. If we did that then no one would leave their homes from April through May. Now I will admit that a lot of businesses closed early Friday because of the threat of severe weather but that is unusual.
Now, why do people live here? Well, why do you live where you live? Because you were born there? Because it's home? Because your family is there? You like your job? You like the climate? There are numerous reasons why we live anywhere but it usually comes down to one thing. Because you like it there. Believe it or not, most people really like living here. We have seasons, it's pretty country, and the people are nice. The tornadoes are just a part of life and you learn to deal with them.
Why do I live here? Well, I wasn't born here. I chose to live here. I love the open country, the people are great, and this is a state that believes in our rights. This state was founded by people who were looking for opportunities, who weren't afraid to take on a challenge, and knew that they couldn't count on anyone to come to their rescue except for themselves and their neighbors. After the F5 tornado we were flooded with reporters who were amazed at how strong the people were and how people were pouring out of the woodwork to help. They call it the Oklahoma Standard, we call it being a good neighbor. By the time FEMA got here and the Red Cross could get established, churches and other groups were already setting up shelters and taking donations. We don't wait on the government to come in and rescue us. When we see something needs to be done, we do it, especially in a crisis. After the Red Cross got the shelters set up the comment was made on TV that they were a little surprised that there weren't more people staying in them. I wasn't. I had heard that same statement by a Red Cross volunteer after the May 3, 1999 tornado. People are taken in by friends, family, and sometimes even strangers. There are disasters no matter where you live so don't be so judgemental because you don't like our brand of disaster.
So why do I live here? Because I like it here. We may not be as sophisticated as folks out on the east coast, and we may not be as liberal as folks out on the west coast but you know what? We've got some pretty good folks right here and if you get scared by a little wind and rain, well maybe we don't want you anyway.
I won't make any apologies for making anyone mad. I was more than a little irritated by all the armchair quarter backing going on after the storm by people who have never even been here. Oklahoma is a good state with good people so to all of the nay sayers I'll just tell you in the polite Southern way...kiss my grits.