To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login
Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.
Complete the registration form.
A series of thunderstorms of horrific proportions struck sections of Oklahoma and Kansas in early May. Reportedly, 38 people were killed, almost 700 were injured and nearly 3,000 buildings were destroyed. At one point during the storm, the National Weather Service clocked winds at 317 mph. The people of Oklahoma City and Moore, no strangers to tragedy after the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995, took a devastating direct hit from the storm. Many other portions of the state were affected as well. Some responders in the Midwest responded to calls for help only to have to take cover themselves after another in a series of severe storms approached rapidly.
Firefighters from Stillwater, OK, responding to a plea from nearby Mulhall to send anything they could spare found the town of 400 almost totally wiped out. While they were on their way back to their town, another storm blew cars and trucks off Interstate 35, killing one man. Apparently, in Oklahoma City alone 19 firefighters and 23 police officers lost their homes during the storm. At least eight firefighters and police officers in other areas also were left homeless. Oklahoma City Assistant Fire Chief Jon Hansen, the department's public information officer who briefed the world's press after the 1995 bombing and who was a speaker at a recent Firehouse Expo, also lost his home in the storm. Asked after the bombing whether the people of Oklahoma City would be victims or survivors, Hansen replied that they would be survivors.
It looks like the people in that region, although they are going through a tough time right now, are going to survive again. If you would like to help these firefighters and departments in their time of need, please contact The Firefighters Relief Fund, c/o the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association, P.O. Box 11507, Oklahoma City, OK 73136 or please call 800-308-5336. Tragically, these aren't the only firefighters who have been affected by tornadoes. Several other fire departments across the country have been hit by past storms and had to live through a similar experience on a smaller scale.
Sometimes, you pull up to a "good job," confine, control and extinguish the red devil and then roll up your hose, replace your tools, change your SCBA cylinder and return to the station. You may relive or talk about or debate the "job" for years. Many may not realize the trauma that the occupants or owners of properties go through after we pack up and leave. Their world is turned upside down. You just never know what that next alarm may bring. The firefighters in Oklahoma and Kansas responded to the real deal not like what happened to Dorothy in the movie "The Wizard of Oz." Hopefully, they too will live happily ever after.