The town he grew up in wasn’t the same. The north side of town, where the fertilizer plant was located, was cordoned off and no one was allowed in. The small community he knew so well had changed, too. It was crowded with relief workers, media and others. Streets were jammed and roads were blocked.
“I think everyone’s still in shock. I really just think everyone doesn’t know what to do right now, just because there’s so much damage,” Carpenter said. “It’s going to take so much to rebuild and so long to rebuild everything. Everyone’s not really used to having everyone in town like that, with it being such a small, close-knit community. There are so many people from other places there. It’s kind of not normal right now.”
No one knows when it will be again. The rebuilding process will be lengthy. The psychological impact is immeasurable.
Carpenter returned to Norman on Monday. He’ll be in the lineup when the Sooners open a three-game series with Texas Tech at 6:30 p.m. today at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
In some ways it’s a return to normalcy. Getting to play baseball again is a welcome distraction. Teammates are glad to have him back. They worry about him.
“He’s handling it real well. We try to keep his encouragement up and just play and have fun on the field,” OU pitcher Jonathan Gray said.
However, it’s impossible to block out what happened in his hometown.
“I never would have imagined in a million years that would happen. I drove by that fertilizer plant way more times than I can count,” Carpenter said. “It was actually right across from the high school. I was across the street from it every day. I never would have thought that would happen, especially to West, of all places.”