How You Can Help Those Hurt By Yesterday's Oklahoma Tornadoes

That's a house, or it was. - Denton Johnson

Tornadoes happen in Oklahoma. And as an Oklahoman you are prepared for their appearance. However, you're never fully ready.

That's Denton's house. Or rather, what's left of Denton's house. Early afternoon on May 20th, 2013, Denton and his family, who live in Moore, Oklahoma, were likely prepared for the storms. They are intelligent, readily active, and aware people. They prepared themselves mentally, grabbed the necessary items, watched the broadcasts on every major television network, and strategically went about their day knowing that a storm was coming.

Yes, Denton and his family were prepared, but they weren't ready. No one ever really can be.

In what is the third tornado to touch down in the Moore, Oklahoma since 1999, the May 20th, 2013 variety was remarkably deadly. Destroying elementary schools, movie theaters, gas stations, mobile homes, brick houses, 18 wheelers, boats, RV's, and yes, human life, this was a horrific storm even by the standards of those living in Oklahoma. Nearly 30 have been confirmed as dead, 7 of those being children. There are no words to describe the destruction.

In May of 1999, I was house sitting for a friend. Me, their dog, and a two story house as an 18 year old just sounds magical. And it was. I carefully took the dog for a walk one morning, the sky was beautiful, the air increasingly thick, never did I dream what would happen in the next 8 hours.

I chose to visit my family in nearby Edmond, Oklahoma for some strange reason. This prompting would eventually save my life because mid-afternoon in early May of that year, a tornado ripped through a similar swath of Moore, Oklahoma and beyond. 48 hours later, and a check of my pulse, I was granted access to the otherwise unaccessible area of the city where the house I was watching resided. In it's place was dirt. No trees, no resemblance of a house, no sticks, just a square patch of dirt. I blinked 20 times, took a drink of yellow Gatorade, and walked up and down the street to make sure I had the right address. The house was gone.

Yesterday, Denton experienced something very similar. He and his family are healthy and well. I'm sure they are frightened by the events, but their steadfastness is impressive.

Denton, a diehard Oklahoma City Barons fan, can attest to the bounce-back nature of Oklahomans. It sounds cliche that we know how to rise up, but there's a certain humble brag that Okies posess that is downright admirable. We are stubborn, strong-willed, ethical, hard-working, and determined (sometimes to a fault). Those things, bundled together, give an impressive glow on terrible, horrifying situations. We just can't help it.

The swiftness with which Oklahomans have activated in the wake of yesterday's tornadic outbreak is impressive. Not surprising, but quite impressive. There's a mountain of things to conquer in the coming months, but we all realize that it's about one step at a time. That begins today.

There's an opportunity for you to help as well. Whether you're in the Oklahoma City area or somewhere much more north of here - you can lend a hand. Monetary donations are of the utmost importance. "But where are those things being used,?" you might ask. Plain and simple, things like gas, batteries, food, water, clean-up efforts, and shelters require dollar to produce and maintain. Every dollar spent helps relief in my state, even the smallest amount.

Here's how you can help.

Donate To The Red Cross
US TEXT - REDCROSS to 90999 - $10 donation
CANADA TEXT - REDCROSS to 30333 - $5 donation

Other forms of local help can be found by visiting here.

In the end it's not necessarily about survival, but overcoming tragedy. On paper that seems like a simple process, but we all know that heartbreak and loss don't own a quick-fix remedy. Know that you are helping when you give, and for some of you that means giving of your time. Thank you in advance to all that give to causes near and dear to my heart, but more importantly to my home state, where things are grim, but have already started to look more promising.

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