“I don’t even know what time it was, but I got a call from the fire chief to tell me that the seven children had been killed. That was the worst phone call I’ve ever gotten, as far as work-related stuff,” Eddy said.
The tornado caused an estimated $16.5 million in damages to city property. For a city manager, that’s a hard number to face. But there are more positive numbers, like the approximate 50,000 volunteers who flocked to Moore to help with the recovery process.
“We had, for the first several months, church groups and groups from all over the country come during the week and every weekend. I would say 50,000 or more volunteers came to help. That was remarkable. Also the monetary donations to the big charitable organizations: Red Cross, United Way, Salvation Army. Between those two things has been the biggest and the best surprise,” Eddy said.
Although it doesn’t make it easier, Eddy is thankful the city of Moore buildings were unharmed on May 20. If those buildings got hit, it would be a more difficult to get help to people in need.
“The amazing thing about it is, I’ve seen a map — I think it was generated by the Weather Service — that showed the actual track of the center of the storm,” Eddy said. “The way it came right up to the 7-Eleven, and on this map, you can see it make a U-turn and it came back east on the highway from there.
“The track it was on would have been right through here, had it not turned. We have been very fortunate in regard of city hall. The operations of the city has been able to continue.”
One advantage that the city had after the tornado was social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. In 1999, Eddy made several trips to Oklahoma City television stations to deliver useful information such as debris removal.