I had intended to write a new post yesterday, but I made the mistake of turning on the TV to check out the weather as I was planning on driving to Ft. Worth today to spend Easter with my brother and s.i.l. and any other sibs that I might run into while I'm here.
The first thing I saw was a home burning. It was so wind driven that it looked like someone was burning it with a flame-thrower. Then the camera operator in the chopper pulled back from the tight shot and there was fire EVERYWHERE. I was, needless to say, glued to the TV for the rest of the evening.
The first reports started coming in around 1:30 or 2 p.m. All three Okla. City TV stations were broadcasting about the fires continually from about 2:30 in the afternoon. Oklahoma was burning from south to north, from Texas to Kansas, being pushed by southern winds that were blowing from 40-60 m.p.h. The ember fireballs were blowing up to 1/4 of a mile over the firefighters and starting more fires.
The firefighters were trying to get ahead of the fires but the wind was being ferociously aggressive. I wasn't worried at this point about where I live because the closest fires were about ten miles north of where we lived. When I started getting worried about where we lived is when the winds started turning from south to north with the cool front that was coming in from the west and north and the winds were expected to increase and drive the fire back the way it came. That problem with that was the fire had been driven by the wind so fast that while a lot had been burned, there was a lot that hadn't been burned.
Whole small towns were evacuated. In Midwest City and Choctaw, both of which are east of OKC, but still bedroom communities,and Wellston which is north of Choctaw, over 100 homes were destroyed. One home would catch fire and the firefighters would be fighting it and the house next door would catch on fire or maybe the embers would blow over the house next door to the second house down the street. And all of this was happening in front of the viewers eyes.
Got to stop for now, but I will be back later and wrap up this story. I can only deal with getting my brain wrapped around so much and then I have to rest and think a bit. I just wanted to get this started and let you all know that we were okay. I'll get back to you later this evening.
Please bear with me...
I'm back. When disasters happen, and this is a disaster, I have to think things through and try to get my brain wrapped around it. I want to try to tell you as honestly as I can how I see things through my eyes. All of the stuff that I write about is as I see it. And as I watched these fires bursting out all over I was both horrified and fascinated. Horrified at the destruction, all the people who lost their homes, and the firemen who were injured fighting the fires.
Fascinated by the incredible power of mother nature, God or however you want to chalk it up. When I saw those videos being sent into the various stations from their choppers with the fires destroying places I knew, areas I was familiar with, streets I have driven on a good portion of my life, each one that flared up was like a burn on my own skin. I can understand now the effects the California fires had on the people that had to be evacuated, that had everything destroyed that they had worked for all their lives.
I would watch the California wildfires, the Arizona wildfires and the Florida wildfires and it never really touched me because I didn't know these places. These places were not ingrained in the fabric of all my life's experiences, these were not the places that I had grown up around. These were not the street's I had ridden around with my mom and my dad when I was little... going out to what was the country then to my aunt and uncle's home... the streets that I rode with my mom and dad going just out for a Sunday drive.
I watched on until after 11 p.m. when things were brought under control enough that people were no longer being evacuated and the TV stations were no longer streaming video and warnings to folks to stay away so that the firemen could fight the innumerable fires. I will never again see a fire, whether it is a grass fire, forest fire or a house fire that I will not be touched by now. And I now can, truly, understand why people rebuild in the same area or on the same grounds that the homes they lost were on.
Because it is just that... home.