SCIENCE and technology can only go so far in explaining what we see after tornadoes like those that swept across the state Monday. Why do they level one home and leave the house next door standing? Why do they leapfrog entire neighborhoods and ravish others? Why can we see some coming for miles while others drop down and disappear in almost invisible fashion except for the obvious destruction left behind?
What we know for sure in Oklahoma is this: We have survived worse. And together, we'll survive the chaos of this week and whatever else Mother Nature has in store this spring.
The scenes from Monday's series of tornadoes are nothing short of devastating. Twisters reduced homes to rubble, uprooted trees and sucked grass from the earth. That's what they do, with no regard for life or memories or history. And we're helpless to stop it.
Yes, we can prepare. Evidence of that was widespread as video showed neighbors rescuing nearby families from their shelters. Six people died. But how much worse could it have been? Mobile home parks were flattened. The twisters hit in afternoon rush hour and blew vehicles off the road, flipping some of them in the process. And despite wall-to-wall television coverage, not every tornado that touched down had much specific advance warning. Mother Nature still rules over technology.
Now we're left with the aftermath. Families wonder what will become of their blown-away homes and scattered keepsakes. Officials of damaged schools must figure out whether they can finish the school year. And those families who lost the most — their precious loved ones — mourn for those they can't bring back.
Yet the aftermath is when Oklahoma is at its best. Neighbors checked on one another. First responders weren't far behind. Makeshift emergency shelters went up almost immediately. And help to restore power and begin the massive work of cleanup began pouring in, slowed only by the need to check for injured and other dangers like downed power lines and potential gas leaks.
It took only seconds for the tornadoes to wrap Oklahoma in destruction. But Oklahomans will be there for each other for the long haul, making sure families are fed and housed even as we mourn alongside them. The long list of tragedies that preceded Monday has taught us how to do that. Oklahomans know how to care for one another. It's what we do.