I’m not saying last night was the scariest night of my life, but…. I wouldn’t deny it either. Our hotel is downtown OKC and the bowling alley is in Shawnee. We kept an eye on the radar and saw a storm approaching from the west. Shawnee is east of OKC so we hoped that by going east the storm would skip north of us. We got to the bowling alley and were pretty much glued to the TV screens that had the news on.
I will say, that most everyone around here has the attitude of ‘there ain’t nothing you can do about it, so just go with it’. Cait and I couldn’t understand how people could be so calm. Like, we could get blown to the fucking Mississippi and you’re standing there sipping your bud light and look like you’re pissed because you forgot to move your grill into the shed. Um… hello?!
Unlike the previous day, rather than curving north, the storm followed I-40 east, right for us. We stood outside the building and watched as it approached until the Sheriff got word that we needed to evacuate. Not gonna lie, for Cait and I… our ‘out of town’ was showing and we were the first bitches across the lot to the storm shelter. I mean, I even ducked back into the building to grab the photos I was going to have autographed (I ain’t leaving that shit behind), and still made it through the doors first. We could see the massive lightning (like multiple streaks across the sky at once), hear the thunder, etc. The sky looked so, so angry and it was loud. Oh so very loud.
The designated shelter was a concrete bathroom inside a giant empty ware-house/grocery store type building. And while I know there was nasty tornado weather outside, I was a little more freaked out by the spider and huge dead bugs in the corners (like, if I have to huddle in here, can we not keep it clean?). We spent approx 90 minutes in the shelter tweeting/facebooking the storm. The people in charge (police were great, had water bottles for us and were really good to clear, concise, calm directions). We got the chance to go back out and ‘watch’ for a bit in between storm cells and…. I have no words.
Since it was a community shelter, it wasn’t just event people that were there. I talked to one woman who had about 10 minutes to get out of her house and when we were leaving, she had no idea if she had a house to go home too. I really hope she does.
Eventually we were allowed to head out (if we wanted). We waited around a bit until the police could confirm that I-40 was open and that it was just thunder/lightning and wind gusts. We hit hail at one point but it didn’t get to be too bad. The first few minutes of driving in the lightning was pretty terrifying but it was so constant that we just sort of grew numb to it. There were no street lights, so I lingered a ways behind the car in front of me and had my brights on so I could see the lanes on the highway. The lightning also lit up the road in flashes and actually helped to see the highway exit. We found covered parking across the street from the hotel and the rain had slowed enough by then that it wasn’t bad going across the street.
Today we found out that people were supposed to be off the roads by 4pm. We never got the msg, so when traffic was heavy at 5:30… it was people still leaving. Glad we didn’t leave any later, traffic got worse on I-40 and people were essentially ‘sitting ducks’ on the interstate. I believe almost all the fatalities were due to people staying in their cars.
Today it’s in the high-70’s, sunny and we can see the tail of the storm off in the horizon as the weakened system moves across Arkansas. We get a re-do of the event tonight and it’ll be interesting to see the area in day light. Tomorrow we head south to New Orleans and our route will take us right through Moore, Ok.
Let me tell you, from the bits and pieces I saw last night… nothing in the news even remotely prepares you for this shit. Nothing.
** At one point we had a bit of a break between storm cells to get out and get some fresh air (it was hot in the bathroom) so here is a bit of a video that I recorded. You can’t really see/hear the rain, but it was coming down pretty good. The video doesn’t really do it justice, but… click here