Tornado trauma… physical and mental

Screen-shot-from-NFE-Moore-Ok-videoI’ve never seen or been in a tornado. I have however seen their aftermath first hand.

Back on May 20, 2013 a deadly F5 tornado devastated Moore, Ok.

Winds peaked at 210 mph. It was a 1.3 miles wide, stayed on the ground 39 minutes and left a path of destruction 17 miles long.

377 people were injured that day, 24 lost their lives.

I traveled to Moore with the now defunct National Firefighters Endowment. I wasn’t prepared for what I found.

I remember being caught off guard by the amount of TOTAL devastation we saw. I remember thinking about all those people seeking safety / shelter that day….the families … adults young and old… children even infants /babies. I thought about the fear they must have experienced. I also remember thinking about the Firefighters and First Responders. Thinking about them responding into the destruction zone and what they must have been thinking / feeling themselves.

Ironfiremen on FaceBook HERE

Ok Firefighter Jon CookOur mission was to help support those Firefighters. 52 Firefighters were affected by the tornado, 30 of them lost their homes entirely.

I remember them sharing their stories with me. Locked down at the station (smart decision by their Administration), on duty, watching the events unfold and knowing all the while that their homes / families were directly in the tornado’s path. Unable to stop the impending doom, knowing what was to follow and being unable to respond or do anything about it.

Still today I don’t know how they did it. They had to sit there and watch it!

We documented the stories of Jon Cook and Brandon Whitehouse. Take the time to watch the video below… it’s powerful and it may give you just a glimpse of what we found…

Photo credit ABC Chicago

Photo credit ABC Chicago

I broach the subject and share this video again because of the deadly tornado that tore through Fairdale, Illinois yesterday.

You’ll see pictures of the physical destruction. The homes lost. Businesses, farms, vehicles, trees and power lines down etc.

What can’t be captured on film is the enormity of it all. What also can’t be captured is the emotional damage.

Emotional damage to EVERYONE involved…. including those that everyone else looked to for help.

Photo credit

Photo credit

My thoughts today have drifted between Oklahoma and Illinois.

The Firefighters and First Responders have been heavy on my mind. I wonder how they are holding up.

My experience in Moore allows me to know just a little of what these Brothers and Sisters must have been thinking and what they went through.

Can you imagine searching for victims in all this destruction while not even knowing that your own family is safe? Responding to a street that doesn’t even exist any more?

Photo credit

Photo credit

I’m humbled, proud and HONORED to see the job these Brothers and Sisters are doing. The saying is true… American Firefighters do AMAZING things on a daily basis!

I know (assume and hope) groups such as the NFFF (National Fallen Firefighters Foundation) , the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters)  and more will have crews on the ground to to care for the mental health of the responders.

Even still, maybe an extra thought and prayer would be in order tonight … I’m sure they could all use it. I’ll be sending some and hope you will too.

I’m not sure who all responded into Fairdale and / or the surrounding areas. I’m thinking possibly the Rockford Fire Department and maybe Departments such as Kirkland Community FD, Monroe Township Fire Protection District and Lynn Scott White Rock Fire Protection District. If any of you know, please let me know via the comment section.

Below are my previous posts from Moore, Ok.

“Video… Looking back to Moore, Oklahoma…”

“From the Rubble”

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines