NORMAN — Again, it was Moore. For the third time in less than 15 years, residents of this city of about 60,000 must mourn their dead, help the living and pick up the pieces of shattered lives that now lay in a field of wreckage.
The devastation caused by the tornado that blew through Moore on Monday afternoon is painfully familiar. In 1999, and again in 2003, tornadoes laid waste to a sizeable swath of the city.
At last count, at least 24 lost their lives in the storm, including nine children. The reality of the tragedy hung heavy over all who wandered or marched through the devastation Monday, and those who stood transfixed in front of it the next day, wondering why.
Day 1: In the moments after the EF-5 tornado had left, there was stunned confusion. People flooded from what once were intact neighborhoods onto Southwest 134th Street. The massive tornado that had caused so death and destruction had evaporated.
Communication was hampered by jammed phone lines. Texting was hit-and-miss. Being able to get a cell phone call through seemed a small miracle.
At Southwest 134th and Western, a young girl holding her mother’s hand was crying. Further east, a woman in tears spoke on a cell phone she had somehow gotten to work. Her mother was in one of the houses hit by the twister and she didn’t know if she was alive.
One man who gave his name as Oliver walked along the street to check on his father near the hardest-hit area. His father lived in a mobile home.
Some nervously smoked cigarettes. Others huddled with family and friends on the roadside. Police refused to let most non-emergency vehicles down the streets into the heart of the devastation. That caused some to set off on foot.
People who lived nearby in areas untouched by the storm walked against the flow of refugees, wanting to help. Several people offered bottles of water to passersby.