Thank you to all my blogster followers for all your thoughts and prayers as my community of Moore, OK - in which I live and work in, has been horribly affected by the tornado that passed through on May 20th. This tornado developed and came fast giving the community little warning and not much time to prepare. It also came earlier in the day than most tornados come. It came at a time when people were still at work and children were still in school. The commotion of what was coming our way started around 2:00 p.m. Parents were rushing up to our school in a mad frantic to check their child out. With so many parents and such a mad dash to get students with their parents, the office staff was calling the student’s names out over the intercom one right after another as students were running down the halls to their parents. As the storm got closer and closer the school was then put on a lockdown. It was too dangerous for parents to leave with their child. So parents came down to their child's classroom to be with their child and take cover with them during the storm. As the tornado alarms sounded teachers, staff, students, parents, etc. all followed the tornado procedures we have practiced so many times before. I had nine of my first grade students left at this time. I then had my students take cover on the interior wall of my classroom. (It’s times like these that you are so thankful you don’t have any windows in your classroom!) As my students were taking cover I began pushing all the student desks over their bodies. I was preparing just in case something were to happen to our building, any flying debris, etc. – hoping that the desks would take most of the hit, not the small bodies huddled closely underneath them. Just as we were all settled into our positions we lost all power and the room became pitch dark. Luckily I had a flashlight and my iPad right by my side. As we were all huddled in the dark waiting for the unknown to happen our wonderful principal, Michelle McNear, was very calmly guiding us, talking to us, telling the students to be calm and listen to their teachers, and also telling everyone how much she loved them over the intercom system. One of the last announcements she made before the intercom system stopped working was to tell us that in about 30 seconds it was going to get really loud and our ears were going to pop, but to stay in our tornado positions. I can’t say enough how wonderful and calm our principal was as she stood in front of a wall of glass windows, with an F4 or F5 tornado about 100 yards from our building, guiding us all through what was about to come. (Below is a picture our principal took of the tornado as she was looking out the glass windows of our school). She was definitely right we could hear a loud sound – almost like a train close by. As scared as I was on the inside I knew I could not let my little first graders hear or see the fear I had. I knew I had to stay strong for them. So as we were all huddled in position we were all laughing and cracking jokes. As much as I wanted everyone to be silent so I could listen to what was going on outside – I knew laughing and jokes were the way to go. Then, I did what I knew I had to do – start praying! Not only was I praying but I could hear and see my little first graders start praying. Then, by a miracle it all became quiet…no rain or hail sounds. I decided to see if I could get any kind of information on my iPad as to where the tornado was. I was able to pull up the streaming video of the tornado coverage to see that the storm had passed by our school - Wayland Bonds Elementary. I was so relieved and felt so blessed that it had missed our school – but I didn’t feel 100% secure, because the video I was watching was showing the tornado heading in a path right by my house. So I texted my husband who was home with my dog to make sure he was taking cover and to tell him that I loved him. Luckily the tornado not only missed our school, but also my house. It was less than a mile away. Below is a video my husband took as the tornado made its way in the area behind our house.
This is a picture of the tornado outside the windows of our school - Wayland Bonds Elementary.
This is the tornado passing just north of my house.
This is my husband taking the video from our backyard.
There is tons of debris surrounding my house and surrounding neighborhoods. This is a picture of a large piece of metal-no telling what this is from.
The storm came through three days before our last day of school. Since schools and family homes were hit in our school district, as well as all the down power lines, closed streets, etc. School could not continue for the remainder of the year. Due to the circumstances, school was officially over May 20th. As days passed and the power came back on and roads were open, the school district had an "End of School - Back to School Night." Parents and students could come to their school to grab their belongings and say good-bye to their teacher. It was a great way to put a since of closer to the school year.
This is a picture of the goodies and supplies my students picked up when they came back to visit me! Visit my blog post End of the School Year Student Gifts to see what I put in each student's sand pail.
Those schools of Briarwood and Plaza Towers that were hit during the storm had their students meet at a surrounding school. Our school of Wayland Bonds hosted all the Briarwood staff, students and parents. Our amazing PTA parents as well as generous donators put together backpacks filled with stuffed animals and other goodies for all the Briarwood students.
It was amazing to see not only all the backpacks and stuffed animals that were donated and put together in just a few short days, but food, gift cards, etc. were also donated to those families.
May 20th was a sad and very long day. Not only did we spend hours up at the school waiting for parents to pick up their children, but it also took hours for me to make it back to my house. I feel so blessed to have all my family, friends, students, and belongings spared by the horrible storm. Unfortunately, not everyone can say that. Some of the families at our school were affected by the tornado. Please continue to pray for those families that have not only been affected by the loss of their belongings – but for the people and animals they may have lost. Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers!