First off, I’d like everyone out-of-state to know that we are alive, Enid is fine, and we only got a tiny bit of the past two days’ horrific weather. I thought I’d take this opportunity to recount my first experience with tornadoes.
As some know, my daddy is a self-employed petroleum landman. I was born in Houston, Texas, in the midst of an oil boom time. The oil business is boom or bust, usually with very little middle ground, and shortly before my eighth birthday, it took the predicted turn, and we found ourselves moving to our family farm in Lahoma, Oklahoma.
If my memory is correct, we moved the weekend of the 13&14 of August, 1994, with a U-Haul, my parents, three kids ages nearly 8, nearly 5, and 2 1/2, two dogs, and Pavarotti the parakeet. On Monday, the 15th, my brother started his first day of kindergarten and I started my first day of third grade in the tiny grade school in Lahoma, after a year of being home schooled. Everything was going as well as possible, stuff was everywhere, as we were moving in. Now, I can’t swear to the validity of the story that follows, as I was not yet at a reliable age, but this is my memory:
August 17, 1994. Jim and I rode the bus to school. At some point it started getting kind of windy and rainy and the teacher started seeming nervous… eventually we were ushered into the hallway to sit under our hooks (where our backpacks, etc were). There was another little girl who was new to the school as well, who I believe was an immigrant. She was far more panicked than the rest of us, and that was the last we saw of her. The running joke for pretty much the remainder of my academic career at Cimarron was that she brought the storm with her.
During the storm, my mom was with my sister and my Gran (dad’s mother), unpacking and the like when they saw the wall cloud. They didn’t have time to get to the storm cellar, so the three of them squeezed into a teeny tiny closet under the stairs. My understanding is that Gran’a very proper, episcopal prayers were mixed with mom’s “dear Lord, get us the heck outta here alive!” and something apparently got through!
Daddy was on his way home from somewhere, and remembered hearing that you should lie down face first in a ditch and cover yourself if it wasn’t possible to get to shelter, so he pulled out a sleeping bag and that’s precisely what he did. When he finally made it home, he says he shouted “Auntie Em! Uncle Henry! Toto!” as he made his way to the storm cellar, only to find his wife, mother, and daughter were not there. Pretty quickly he found them in their hiding spot, though!
My mom picked us up and we got home to see the damage… All the windows were gone, trees stripped, unimaginable devastation throughout the area. The old barn collapsed. The Red Cross came to Lahoma proper and gave us food, a mop, a broom, and a bucket. I’m not really sure what else.
We stayed in Enid with my other Gran’s cousin, Jerry, and his family for a few days, I think. The following day was my eighth birthday and my presents were wrapped in the comics, which I thought was awesome. I was also given a certificate for the kitten of my choice that day.
I’m so glad the whole thing ended up as it did for us… I’m sure my parents have an entirely different view of that experience. The following is a quote from examiner.com’s Today in History for August 18:
“Residents who were in the path of the 1994 Lahoma storm in Oklahoma, awoke on this morning to find a strange world. The devastating wind and hail storm on the previous day had stripped nearly every tree of leaves in the Lahoma and Drummond areas. That, along with plowed fields from harvested wheat, left the August landscape looking eerily more like mid winter. Hail was still on the ground in some protected areas around Lahoma more than 24 hours after the storm.”
If memory serves, there were 4 touch downs in our area. It was considered an inland hurricane.
My heart goes out to all the families who were less fortunate this past week. It breaks for them. Keep them in your thoughts, if you would.