We went to Moore, Oklahoma a few days after the first tornado in order to help my mom and dad
and their neighbors with debris clean up and repairs.
The dump trucks were a constant flow in and out of the neighborhood. The system was to haul the debris to the median, the trucks loaded it and took it away.
It was an overwhelming task. Millions of little pieces, buried deep in the wet grass and bare soil. Debris was wrapped in the shrubs and tucked beneath rose bushes. Styrofoam, insulation, roof shingles, splinters of 2 x 4’s, paper….wait…. these were book pages. Music. Photographs. Dog tags. The first discovery of something legible, made us aware that we were not just cleaning up debris, we were picking up the pieces of scattered lives. Broken hearts. Fear. And they were scattered for miles….
As we followed these trucks out-of-town the day we left, we knew they were not simply hauling trash to the dump, but rather they were burying pain, secrets, and pasts.
Be nice to people. You really never know what they may be dealing with today. ♥
Here’s to Oklahoma for keeping the faith~
I’m thankful your folks are alive as well. It caught me off guard to see a Canadian twenty dollar bill!
ME TOO! and ME TOO!
I was so relieved to hear your parents were ok too, but I must tell you I’ve been looking everywhere for that twenty. How did it get way down there? Geesh!
LOL….Okay, truly did LAUGH OUT LOUD on this one! I also found a strap to a $1000 bundle…..never did find the money though….;)
Good :). I was worried that some people might think me insensitive, but I thought you could probably use a laugh after all you have been through lately!
😉 Laughter is the best medicine…..it really is!
Paula this is beautiful! You should make a photo book out of your images. My favorite is the piece of Bible verse; what a fitting scripture! I also love the Gone With The Wind record – that is ironic and (I’m sorry) just a bit funny. 🙂 Again, so thankful that your folks are okay (well at least physically). Love you guys!
Thank you, Darla. The Gone With the Wind record was in found in my folks backyard. We thought it was pretty eerie! ♥
Only way it could have been better (worse) is if it had been Somewhere Over The Rainbow!
Well I must say I was thinking about Oz a lot that day…. 😉
🙂 I have the urge to watch it again. We’ve already done our annual Twister watch party. That’s how we start off storm season – sick, I know.
Ugh…..not this chick!
What a lovely post. And the photos of the debris really tugs at the heart, knowing that pieces of people’s lives are truly scattered all over. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much for stopping by today. ♥ This is one of those happenings that stick with you.
This is heart wrenching… people’s history snapped from them in a matter of minutes… it reminds me so much of the flood that went through our house in 2001, when we lost everything… the thing I most miss is all the photos and scrap books of our children when they were young… we were left with no photos of them when babies etc… but we never had to bury anyone so we felt we had actually not lost anything… but it is still devastating and I feel for all those that have lost the lot… so glad your parents are alright …
I am so sorry for what your family went through, Bulldog. I guess it is true that we discover what matters most when things like this happen. Several places in Moore are collecting the photos found so that hopefully people can reconnect with them. ♥
Your photos speak volumes about the devastation. Yes, they are just “things”, but they were part of someone’s life. I can’t even imagine losing everything I own – so very sad. God bless the survivors as they put their lives back together and prayers for those who lost loved ones.
I agree with bulldog. It’s the photos I would miss the most. As long as the people are okay that’s the main thing but of the “things,” photos would be the most precious to me. Almost everything else is replaceable or wouldn’t be missed for long. Very sad to look at these pictures in your post but thank you for sharing them just the same.
It is hard to look at them….I waited and was hesitant to even post them. But yes….you and Bulldog are right on the photos. You just cannot replace those precious memories ♥
Thank you for this post. We watched the news in silence over here in England and your pictures really do paint clearly the effect it had on so many lives.
It is hard to explain how as devastating as it appears on television….it is even worse. Appreciate you ♥
This is so heartbreaking. It’s almost eerie to see “Gone With the Wind” among that debris. It’s like some strange sign.
Really glad your family is ok. 😀
We are so grateful. The Gone with the Wind was just a shocker! 😉
It looks devasted and I can imagine htere is lots to drive away. Lots of material things can be replaced, but memories and emotional things lost in the storm, can never be replaced. I admire the people who just get on with what has to be done. Glad your family is ok and have their lives, the most important bit! ♥
I guess you have no choice but to pick up the pieces and move forward. But there must be grieving in this process. And heartache. We are so thankful that our family and friends are safe! ♥
Your words and photo’s have captured a small window for those outside the devastation to peek through and taste the sadness as a result from the tornado’s……yet still display the ray of hope for recovery and the great spirit of the folks in Oklahoma! —
Good words, sister. 😉
While looking at these photos, I couldn’t help but think of all my things, such as books, pictures, keepsakes the children have made and given to me over the years… what would I do if everything just blew away one day… My heart breaks for these people. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s human life that’s MOST important!
But it’s also hard to imagine what it must be like to lose everything…
It’s funny….when we prepare for shelter before a tornado warning….we make sure we have meds, important docs, water, dogs/leashes, shoes on our feet…..and of course, my purse (!). Essentials. You are right though. I take so much for granted and while daily “stuff” can be replaced…photos and special items cannot. Yesterday they showed a volunteer that found a couple’s marriage license and her detailed story of their courtship stapled together. The owner was the happiest person in the world to be reunited with this soaked document. So I guess….maybe it’s not just stuff?
Maybe it’s not… 🙂
The photograph of the photograph got me in the gut the most. Maybe that is a landscape someone dreams about. Maybe they’re dreaming about it now.
We found a set of dog tags that got us. Our hopes that they were an old set someone had tucked away. The photographs….yep….so sad ♥
My goodness, Paula! How touching to see the debris and to hold pieces of lives and story in your hand. The happy faces show relief and gratitude! I did love the broken Gone With The Wind record. Isn’t that the truth! oxox
What should have been (ok…and it was) hard work…turned out to be a sentimental time. The Gone With the Wind…..crazy irony! ♥
There are no words to adequately express my visceral and emotional reaction to your amazing pics. And my heart and prayers go out to the courageous people in OK. Long may you thrive!!
The images that you’ve shared are so touching…and strike a chord with us all. ANOTHER important thing that they do….After Moore and later, your images, when we got word that we were going to get some of that storm system …. my husband, for the first time, did not just simply go off to bed and brush off the possibility of danger. He came back and forth for hours “getting a drink of water”…but getting an update each time. We knew where our shoes were, I had packed up meds, dog leash, flashlights, keepsakes,the list goes on. I hate that your parents had to go through that and am so glad that they came through it….I don’t know if there is any comfort to be found in the fact that other people are now paying serious attention to the weather or not…but you all have helped me. I finally can feel that if I give the word, he will take shelter, and he means the world to me.
Wow…..Now that gives me a very peaceful feeling. Stay aware & safe, friend. Blessings and hugs ♥
Blessings and hugs!
Thank you for your poignant post and reminder that lives can change forever in an instant.
Appreciate you, Russ ~
The photos are both beautiful and heartbreaking. Your photos set the scene so well, it’s unreal to see a families history strewn about.
You are right….it does all seem unreal. ♥
Walking amongst the debris must have been weird. Sort of like on another planet or in another time or place. I am so glad your parents are OK.
A lot sure runs through your mind…wondering where and who it all came from…. Very fortunate here.
Heartbreakingly powerful photos.
Truly heartbreaking. Some of the things you found were amazing. John 3:16! That brought tears to my eyes. And the Gone with the Wind record. You couldn’t have made that up. Thanks for sharing this. Beautiful post, Paula.
We were amazed….saddened…..and so grateful because as bad as it was….it really could have been so much worse. Thanks, Maddie ♥
Wow all those things you found… the little block, torn sheet music, and that John 3:16 verse… powerful. Thank you for sharing and keeping you all in my prayers 🙂
The process sounds a lot like how they remove snow in the northwest – scoot it to the middle out of the way and haul it off once you get traffic moving. That Gone With the Wind record is one for the ages – serendipitous.
That’s exactly it….. QUITE a process. We were impressed with their organized chaos. Seriously. They were all working SOOOO hard. There were “feeding” teams set up on one of the medians just to feed the DOT employees. They stored their grills at my folks house in the evenings and my folks were fed really well 😉
That Gone with the Wind….who’d a thunk it?!?!?! 😉
That is awesome!
Extraordinary images. We have lived through extraordinary times in my city (earthquake related) and it really is impossible to explain how it was, how it is and how the small things pierce the heart. And the memories, oh the memories that disappear with the physical and material changes. I love the smiles at the beginning of your post.
The attitude of those all those involved has been hope and “fixing it back”. (the victims and the volunteers) But there is just no way to not be caught up in the emotions. Grateful ~
Yes, hope and resilience and volunteers ; where would we be without them?
What an amazing post, and such insight. I am sorry for your family’s losses, and for the many people who lost things in the tornadoes. It is hard to replace things you need and love. Your pictures beautifully help you tell the story.
People are so resilient, though. My brother’s house burned down a few years ago – not completely, but enough to destroy most of their things. He was a packrat, and loved old things, my mom’s couch from the 60s, things we grew up with – all gone. It was devastating, but it also gave him a time to start over. When it comes right down to it, when we leave the world we go through our last tornado, and not one thing goes with us! It reminds me, that as much stuff as I have accumulated and love over the years, none of it means anything in the end, and most of it won’t mean much to anyone else, either. I can enjoy it while I have it, but it’s stuff. Even pictures, and I’m fortunate to have a few pictures that are very old and treasured, but they are stored in more than one place – my heart for one, and now digitized for another. Almost everything else is replicable – or not!
God bless those who have been through this recent tragedy, and I know they are taking stock of what is truly important, as your caption says. “Thankful to be alive.”
You comments have nailed it in so many ways! We were in Moore yesterday and were amazed in such a short time at how much progress is being made. Yes, there are still piles of broken cars, here and there, etc…..but everyone is working to make it happen and it refreshes the soul to see all God’s people working together. ♥
I’m so glad. I think it makes everyone feel better to DO something. My first husband always said, “Do anything – even f it’s wrong, at least you are doing something.” That’s not always true, of course, but It is good for the soul to get out and stand up and get going again. 🙂
What a great statement! ♥
🙂 Yes, he was a smart guy! 🙂
People helping people is one of the sweetest of all life’s miracles. Thank you so much for caring.
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