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God Help Us, Another Tornado

“As the wind ripped the roof off one of the bathrooms, and debris rained down on the children, they remained calm, singing ‘You Are My Sunshine’…”

Dark tornado descending on Oklahoma City

A friend of mine on Instagram, @BennyJacobs, was on I-35 traveling north from Norman when he passed the tornado that has devastated the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.

Another Oklahoma Disaster. God Help Us.

For the second time this year, I have to explain to my kids why a bunch of kids died at their school. The first time was Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. This time, Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore, Oklahoma. The situation is vastly different, but the losses are the same: little children.

We live about 12 miles north of the devastation, but it’s right here on me. On all of us. The aftermath of an F-5 tornado that moved slowly and tore up lives. I’m dizzy lying down. My head is pounding because I’m tired. I can’t sleep. Who could sleep last night?

Every day, when I take Sullivan and Bridgette to school, I watch them bounce out of the car and into the building. Robert takes Juliette. I always kiss her goodbye at the back door and tell her I love her. I watch from the window as she climbs in the car. I watch her until the car pulls out of site.

Always, every day, when I separate from my kids — 15, 7 and 5 — I part with these words: “God be with you.” They usually say it back. Sometimes, it feels corny, especially if someone is standing around. But, I always, always say it.

Today, I realize. I’ve been trying to keep God accountable — to me. I think I started doing this in 1995, after the bombing when a bunch of Oklahomans went to work and never came home. But, maybe it was after 9/11 when the same thing happened. It doesn’t matter when. Ever since, Sandy Hook, I watch my kids go to school and I wonder if they’ll be there for me to pick up at 3 p.m.

Because, as it turns out, a lot can happen in one miserable day. Your whole life can change forever in the worst possible way between the once-sheltered hours of 8 and 3 p.m.

Why can’t we have tornado shelters at schools in Oklahoma?

At 4 a.m. this morning, the New York Times reported the death toll at 91. Later, I heard 51, and then finally, they lowered it to 24. I can’t stop thinking about the children. Especially the seven who drowned at Plaza Towers Elementary.

Did they drown because of a tornado? 

God, please help us.


Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Andi

    I was amazed to learn that not every house or building had tornado shelters, I thought it was a given. I always felt safe in school growing up, a concept that was forever changed for me when Columbine happened. It is no wonder people send their kids to school at all!

  2. Ellen Chong

    Jennifer: We’ve never met in person, but I think of you every time there are tornadoes in Oklahoma. Our California earthquakes, while scary and not without sad consequences, really cannot compare to the concentrated, frequent horror of tornadoes. My thoughts are with you and all who have been devastated.

  3. Barbara

    Chills run through my body and I, along with “Rachel,” weep for the children… the loss is devastating. Thank you Jen, for you insight and compassionate heart. GOD Bless you and all those effected by this great tragedy.

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