~~see Star Trek Into Darkness in 3D on the Warren IMAX screen (noon)
~~take Robert to the airport to catch his flight at 6:30pm
No one expected the weather to add such a violent and deadly monster to the mix.
After our movie, as we were leaving the theater, I received a notification on my phone.
A friend (Thanks again Katie Adkins!) who had seen the above pics on fb earlier
had posted this weather alert to my facebook page:
US National Weather Service Norman Oklahoma
230pm - people in south OKC, Moore and north Norman need to be pay VERY close attention to the storm near Newcastle!!
We decided to try to find Jimmy's Egg because we needed real food...hadn't eaten lunch before our popcornfest during the movie and the boys had never been to that restaurant.
As the skies turned darker and the rain heavier, we realized we needed to get somewhere quick and Jimmy's Egg was probably closed anyway (only serve breakfast and lunch).
We were on the frontage road and as we rounded the curve by Walmart,
Robert saw Arby's so we decided that was as good a place as any.
We had just paid for our food at 2:45pm when the sirens started going and the staff locked the doors. We talked about what the plan was if a tornado came our direction and then sat down to eat our lunch quickly. Adrenaline made it difficult to eat.
I wanted to let family know where we were so I posted this on fb:
"Yeehaw. Locked in at Arby's. tornado warning."
It wasn't long before we all collectively came to the conclusion it was time to seek shelter in the cooler (their designated shelter place). Shelves were wheeled out to make room for all of us (about a dozen staff and customers combined, including an infant and a preschooler). Some of us went further into the freezer while propping the door open between the two cold areas to help us not completely freeze in there.
Photojournaling is in my blood...doesn't matter the occasion.
Had to take some pics to chronicle our experience...
especially if the camera was all that survived.
I could no longer get enough signal to keep friends/family updated with my phone.
We were not familiar enough with the area to know the streets/neighborhoods the reporters were talking about. However, when they said that the tornado was heading
directly for the Warren Theater and Lowe's my heart sank.
We had just been there and had passed Lowe's on the way to Arby's.
"If you are in the path of this tornado and you are not underground you will NOT survive!"
Those words will forever echo in our minds.
I am so proud of my boys for their courage in the face of danger.
J's response to those words above?
"Dude...that's not very comforting!" followed by a nervous giggle. ;)
I was heartbroken that the theater would be destroyed, but knew that buildings can be rebuilt, people could not. We prayed for the safety of the people in those places.
Sometime during those reports we shut the main door to the cooler
and soon after lost all power.
We were prepared for whatever we had to face.
We prayed for calm hearts and peace for ourselves and those sheltering with us.
We prayed for our families and friends left behind.
We were as ready as we could be.
listening intently to the broadcasts
I don't think my camera clock is "to the minute"
on time with this track from the news.
I'm pretty sure it got REALLY dark in the large peephole in the delivery door
and we lost power around the same time that the tornado was close to us....
but you get the idea.
surveying the damage from indoors
debris in parking lot
back side of Arby's
Again...there are minute discrepancies between my sources. ;)
Facebook says it was at 4:02pm that I posted this:
"Feels like a war zone. :( "
Pretty sure we had already made it out onto the street before I posted that from my phone.
turning around in the Target parking lot, debris toward the west
At this point we start voicing how difficult it is to keep trying to get to the airport when so many are in need of help. We were very torn...but the pleas on the radio for people to clear the streets so emergency crews can get through and the visual proof we had of emergency vehicles struggling to cut through the traffic helped us stick to our original mission of getting out of the way as quickly as possible and getting Robert to the airport.
If we hadn't had that "mission" to focus on...
Finally made it to I-35, heading south...camera pointed north
Stopped at the Sonic on Hwy 9 across from the Riverwind Casino
to clean our windows and door handles.
Here is when/where I posted this (fb timestamp 4:42):
"As we're cleaning debris off our windows
I can't wrap my mind around the enormous gratitude for our lives
and the prayers for those who lost loved ones today."
keeping an eye on the angry clouds above us
damaged and overturned semis were the cause of the block at this intersection
After 20mins of driving around trying unsuccessfully to find another way onto I-44 north of the block, we started heading west to find a road to take us north toward the airport
Shot taken on the NW 24th St overpass, looking north at I-44
Still nervous there will be more storms, and heartbroken over the news of the school "search and rescue" changing to "search and recovery"
...and this one. Not sure if these cars sustained damage in Monday's storms, or Sunday's or completely unrelated.
our first glimpse outside after it had passed us.
our poor truck (as well as everything in sight) was covered in yuck
ewww...one of the workers had mentioned everything being covered in horse poop.
I wanted to convince myself it was mud) but as we got into the truck, we could smell it. Afterward we heard about the horse farm nearby that took a direct hit...
so there went my last shred of denial.
looking across at the side of Walmart
trying to maneuver around the debris that could damage tires
corner of S. Telephone and SW 19th, looking west
SW 19th, looking east
having to turn around in the Target parking lot, looking toward the west
back on SW 19th, another random cushion
up close shot of the gunk splattered all over our truck
had made it to I-44, only to be diverted at Newcastle :(
more angry-looking clouds
sign in Tuttle that struck an ironic note
"Storm Shelter Loans"
saw a couple of cars wrecked as we traveled on Hwy 152 east (toward airport)...
According to facebook time it was 6:41 when I posted:
"Can't get enough signal to reply or comment but see occasional notifications of concern.
We are still trying to get to airport. We are safe but shell-shocked.
Life is so fragile.'
FINALLY made it to the airport! Walked into the terminal about 3hrs after leaving Arby's. Should have taken about 20mins...30mins tops.
Along the way we had gotten one or two texts informing of flight delays. There was at least one more after we arrived...and he made his flight, taking off a little after 8pm.
WHAT A DAY (felt like a week)!!
When the kids & I came back to pick him up, we stayed overnight
so we could volunteer to help with clean up on Thursday, the 23rd.