Part 1,  Page  1 of 6

Trek  Across  Moore

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[Note: Thanks for returning to my story. I have to admit that at this point, the story probably bogs down a little. But since youíve come this far, let me encourage you to stick with it, if for no other reason, because it leads up to the best part, Part 3, which is the final part. The third part includes the 30 or so terrifying seconds ` that my relatives spent directly under the lash of one of our planetís most horrific storms.]

      Another Note: In the rest of my story, Iíll be talking about the area of Moore from my sisterís house ─ Ridgeway Street/Plaza Towers east to the Moore Medical center. Iíd like to acknowledge here that the larger part of Moore to the west of the Ridgeway/Plaza Towers neighborhood was also devastated. Itís the part that I rode the bicycle through in Part 1. Iíd hate to shortchange the folks who live in the western part of Moore; itís just that itís not as much a part of the remainder of this story.]

       After finding out about my sister, Deanna, my next thought was to check the welfare of her son (my nephew), Mark Stephens, who, as you will recall, was injured alongside his mother. Also, I needed to check on my niece, Shelley Irvin (Deannaís Daughter, Markís sister), and her family. The Irvin home was only about six blocks away. I felt like if I could go there first and find them, then we could pool our resources to find Mark. [At this time, I didnít know that when the tornado hit, a third person, whose identity Iíll temporarily leave unknown, had been there with Deanna and Mark as the tornado first struck the Ridgeline/Plaza Towers neighborhood.

     The Irvinsí home lay on a straight line roughly halfway between my sister's house and Plaza Tower Elementary and the Moore Medical Center.

I think that at this point, in order to be clear about several aspects of the story, especially the beginning of tomorrowís Part 3, I need to describe the geography of this section of Moore. I'm not sure I can do this without a map, but I'm going to try. If you're interested, feel free to grab a map and try to follow along. I hope I don't make this description too convoluted, so that it doesn't make sense even for those who live there. If I do, I think I can reasonably claim that it's not entirely my fault. As we go along, I think you can see why. (Oh well, blame me anyway, but I think you'll at least see that I didn't have anything to do with the geographic oddities of the path that the killer tornado chose to take.)

     Draw a line starting from the middle of Ridgeway Street or, if you prefer, Plaza Towers Elementary School, northeast to just east of Telephone Road about halfway north and south between the Moore Medical Center and the Warren Theatre.

     If you got it right, it should just cross the southeast corner of a big area Moore calls "The Tom Strouhal Little River Park". I don't know what all is included in this park though it seems to contain the usual park stuff ─ walking trails and so on ─ as well as maybe a cemetery and maybe a golf course. It definitely contains "Little River" which is really a creek; this creek comes out of the southeast corner of the park and continues on south and east till it leaves Moore. But as it leaves the park, and for the next quarter of a mile or so, it is flanked on both sides (yes, both sides) by a street called South Janeway Avenue - neither East Janeway nor West Janeway, nor any other reasonable names, but South Janeway Avenue ─ clearly not my fault. Right between these two identically named streets is Little River, which is, again, really a creek, but with high, steep banks. The street going east out of the park is also named "Little River Circle", which is actually a cul-de-sac on the street's west end, right next to the southeast corner of the park. One block east (toward Telephone Road), it magically changes into 11th Street. Figure that out.

Here are several reasons I tell you all this: 1) The Irvin family (my niece and her family) live right beside the park on Little River Circle, which puts them right at the southeast tip of the park and right at the circle which is the end of the cul-de-sac. 2) The Little River Circle, as well as the neighborhood surrounding it, are not accessible from the west ─ i.e., from Ridgeway Street and Plaza Towers neighborhoods by foot or car short of first going south to 17th street and then coming back north again, a total offline deviation of about two-thirds of a mile. In normal times this is of little consequence, but at times like the night of May 20th, it can be a big problem.

    Here are some more things I'd like to point out about the west to east line we've drawn, which I'm hereby proclaiming to be the last mile or so of the path the May 20th tornado followed (okay, roughly followed). The first quarter of this path ─ Ridgeway, Plaza Towers, and the area around them ─ was total, absolute devastation.

In the second quarter, the area downhill toward the creek, where there are lots of mobile homes, some homes survived, others didn't, and most fell somewhere in between. Again, a distinctive thing I saw in part 1 showed up again here: I had expected the mobile homes to be picked up and thrown somewhere, maybe even smashed. But what I saw looked way different than that. I can best describe it as though the tornado had sneaked inside a window, hollowed the trailer out from the inside, then left. This was an effect I was to see again, even in some of the non-mobile homes. (Maybe it wasn't that way, but that's how it seemed to me.)