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 on Monday, and those who stood transfixed in front of it the next day, wondering why, looking for what and whom could be saved.
In the moments after the EF5 tornado had left, there was stunned confusion.
People flooded from what once were intact neighborhoods onto S.W. 134th Street, refugees trying to make sense of what had just happened. Each person momentarily had to come to terms of what he or she had lived through and was seeing.
The storm had passed. The rain moved east. The sun was coming out. The massive tornado that had caused so death and destruction had evaporated, as if it never existed.
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 S.W. 134th and Western, a young girl holding her mother's hand was crying, her face contorted in fear and hurt. 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. 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. Oliver had not heard from him. He remained composed, but the look was belied by his brisk, determined stride.