The real Dorothy and Toto

My parents’ house was 8 miles west of the tornado. 8 miles. And in between the super cell and our front door is the nursery where my mom got her oak trees, the sonic where she introduced me to their god-sent onion rings, the grocery store where she complained once (being the recent Californian transplant she was) that the checkers weren’t in any kind of hurry because they were on Okie time.
When I went to surprise her for her 60th birthday, we went to a movie theater to watch “Silver Linings Playbook.” It was the closest, nicest one. The kind where you could get dinner and drinks with waiters and red plush recliners. They just opened a new IMax theater not too long ago. I heard on the news that theater had its roof completely torn off.
Are certain people lucky in situations like this? Does luck have anything to do with it? Our house was unharmed. My parents, thank god, aren’t even in town right now. And everyone they know and love is safe. Yeah, I think that’s lucky.
They’ve seen a few tornados in the 8 years they’ve lived there, but none as large and close as this. They don’t even have a storm shelter, the people who built their house (who could have easily installed one, EASILY) decided not to put one in. And so they have a plan to either hide in a closet in the garage under the stairs or run to the neighbor’s shelter. Usually there’s enough warning. The last time that’s what my mom did, she ran across the yard with some valuables and knocked on their door; my step-dad works with the FAA and luckily has some sort of bomb shelter there.
But this one manifested so quickly. All those children stuck…
My mom keeps talking about the horses. How the tornado hit a farm and 75-100 horses were either killed or had to be put down. She asked if I’d seen the pictures of the ones that survived, shocked and bloodied from flying debris.
I saw a video this morning of an old woman who huddled in her bathroom with her dogs. The warnings said anyone above ground was in imminent danger, everyone needed to be underground to survive. But here she is , a woman who has seen it all, lived through it all and found her dog, too.
It seems so random. It’s heartbreaking to think about parents wandering through the night looking for their children or the kids who went into the basement of that building only to drown. Where else were they supposed to go? We haven’t lived there long, but this place is the closest thing I have to a home now. Our photographs are there, clothes from college, stuffed animals and toys from my childhood are all sitting in my mom’s attic. I told her when she moved from California that home was wherever she was. She’ll come back home to a city that looks like a war zone. But she can come back home. Yeah, I think that’s lucky.

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4 Responses to The real Dorothy and Toto

  1. Ms. Moon says:

    Of course it’s lucky and it’s all so random and this is one of the many reasons I don’t, can’t believe in a god. There is no sense, no logic, nothing but the terror when such random, senseless things happen out of the sky, out of nowhere.
    Some are lucky and live.
    Some are not.
    Those horses. Those children. The unlucky.

    • rachvb says:

      It really doesn’t make any sense. I keep watching the videos of the storm and to see something that massive come out of the sky is unfathomable. And a sky I’ve seen from my backyard. They’ve always had weather there, but you can watch it roll in and be in awe and watch it roll out and everything is fine. And then something like this comes down…

  2. Claire says:

    I read in a NYTimes article that it will take more than a year to clean up. ‘Several inches of Moore’s earth are stripped away, a little closer to sea level. And as is always true after a tornado, not one bird sings.’ It really doesn’t make any sense. I appreciate your writing about it, Rachel, when I sure as hell can’t.

    And how relieved I am to hear your Mum and Step-dad are safe.

    Much love, C xo

    • rachvb says:

      I just can’t imagine what my parents are going to come back to. And I never realized how much I care for that city and the good people there. It really is a second home. I’m still so heartbroken about it. I was watching videos all day yesterday and even though the shakiness of the cameras and all the external noise, you could hear how loud that tornado was. I heard one woman say when it passed over her house and she was in the basement with her family, all their ears popped. I’ve been through a flood and on the outskirts of a hurricane, but I can’t imagine the stories these people have to tell after something like this.

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