A Hard Day

Hey, gang. I'd planned to do some kind of writing related post today after taking last week off from the blog, but the Oklahoma tornado yesterday has kind of left me in one of those 'nothing I do is important' kind of places.

Most of you know I live in Texas. But I spent most of my life in Oklahoma. Almost all of my family, and my wife's family, still live there. I'm overjoyed to report they are all safe. Some cousins lost everything they own except for their lives, but all are accounted for.

The thing about Oklahoma that you wouldn't understand unless you've spent some time there, is how close we are as a state. That's partially due to it being a smaller state population-wise, and partially due to it being a primarily rural state. (We have 2 metropolitan areas, Oklahoma City & Tulsa. Both are fairly modest as far as big cities go.) 

Closeness there isn't so much measured by proximity--get any old farmer to tell you about his "neighbors" and he'll mention some place 10 miles down the road--as it is the spirit of togetherness you share with the folks around you.

We celebrate the triumphs of our fellow Oklahomans like they were our own (most of us from there can recite all of the astronauts, famous musicians, athletes, etc. that claim Oklahoma as home like recalling our own family tree), and unfortunately, we also feel the pain of tragedy like it's our own. 

I've shed a lot of tears since last night. My Oklahoman neighbors--my "family"--have lost children, parents, grandparents, siblings, pets, homes... too much to even comprehend. All in the span of a 30 minute monster storm. 

The days ahead will be worse for them. The shock will wear off, and they'll be left to process the literal and psychological shreds their lives have become. Many will never regain what they've lost, and none will ever be the same.

But if you flip on the news, you'll see the real magic of the state going on already. My Facebook is overrun with people from the far reaches of Oklahoma already loading up semi-trailers full of supplies and donations to send to those affected. My nephew, who lives in Oklahoma City, went to the damaged area early this morning to start helping with the cleanup (he's an electrician, so he'll be a valuable volunteer, I think), and he's one of thousands that will do so. In fact, at some point they'll have to turn the general volunteers away there'll be so many.

Many of the major catastrophes to have hit Oklahoma (the Oklahoma City bombing, the May 3rd, 1999 F5 tornado--which hit almost the exact same area as yesterday's storm, etc.) and this is the way it always is. Oklahomans don't wait around for permission or incentive to help one another, they just do.

But it won't be enough. Not this time. There's just too many people impacted by this, and the losses are total for so many. There'll be people living in shelters for weeks, the only things they have left are what they wore in.  There'll be thousands of pets with lost owners that will need to be fed and taken care of until they can be reunited or adopted. There'll be scores of injured folks that need blood and time to heal--time with no income for food and the necessities. The thousands of workers required to clean something of this scale up will need water, work gloves, and more to be able to do what they need to do... the list is endless.

So I'm asking all of you, if you're able, to help in some way. Maybe it's just by sharing this post and saying a few prayers. Maybe you can text the Red Cross to donate $10 (info below the pics & video). Maybe you're part of a church group or other organization, and can instigate a drive to send goods to those impacted. Whatever you can spare or do, it will be desperately needed, and forever appreciated.  

I'm sharing some of the photos and videos I've seen in the last few hours that have impacted me the most. Below those, you'll find links with information on how you might be able to help. All of them are through locally and nationally recognized aid organizations, and I tried to provide links so you can investigate them yourself. 

Thank you in advance for any help from an Oklahoman, for all of Oklahoma.


Video: Woman finds her dog in the rubble of her home on live TV.

Video: Stunning footage. 

PHOTOS: Gallery of incredible destruction and survivor photos.

PHOTO: Being reported as the largest tornado on record at 2 1/4 miles wide.

PHOTO: A giant hail stone from the storm.

PHOTO: Puppy survives the storm.



Text: REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 (charged to your mobile bill I believe...)

Go to http://www.redcross.org to donate

United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief Fund is open.
Donations may be made online at www.unitedwayokc.org or by mail to United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK 73101 with notation for May Tornado Relief.

Contributions to the Moore & Shawnee Tornado Relief Fund can be made securely online at www.TulsaCF.org. Donations can also be mailed to TCF offices at 7030 S. Yale, Suite 600, Tulsa, OK, 74136.


The Pet Food Pantry of OKC is offering dog food, cat food, leashes, collars, food bowls, etc to those in need. (405) 664-2858 www.petfoodpantryokc.org (Go to the website to donate funds to their efforts.)

The Lost & Found May 20 Tornado Facebook page. (They share lots of good information about who is housing pets, etc.)


The Red Cross truly needs your money as much as anything (they are already housing and feeding hundreds of people this AM), but if you're someone who can organize a large scale goods drive, some of the items being requested are:

energy bars,
non-perishable food,
cat and dog food,
air mattresses,
diapers for children and adults,
formula and bottles,
peroxide, disinfectant alcohol and medical supplies.

NEW items requested are rakes, shovels, brooms, bottled water, leather gloves, sunscreen, DEET insect spray, dust masks, trash bags and lip balm. 

If you plan on doing a drive in the coming weeks, please contact the Red Cross prior to see what things they might need, as this list will likely change as more people donate and conditions continue to evolve. 


  1. Moving call to help EJ. (And we donated to the Red Cross last night.) Unless you've lived in an area hit by tornadoes, you just can't fathom the damage to property and lives. Thank God the death toll was cut in half this morning.

  2. I announced on my Secondhand Shoes blog that all my Secondhand Shoes ebook sales throughout the summer will go toward the Oklahoma devastation.

    I had no clue about it until this morning as I was waking up. The Sweetman turned on the tele and that's how I started my day.

    Hugs and chocolate, E.J., (Really wished that's what it took to take care of these people, too)


  3. Oh man I hadn't even heard about this. I dont watch news so I'm pretty much oblivious unless my hubby tells me about something and he was home yesterday and didnt see it either. Wow. So heartbreaking. Glad your friends and fam are safe. I'll def chip in to help those poor peeps. What a massive tornado--like right out of Twister. Can't imagine what it was like to be there.

    I'm tweeting all your great links right now.

    1. Thanks PK! And it's times like these I wish I didn't watch the news. :(

  4. I've been so shaken by this. The pictures on the news are just horrific. Unbelievable. Hard to just live "Normal" life when something so devastating has happened. Thanks for this, EJ. <3

    1. It's just unfathomable at this point, Morgan. The schools being hit is every parent's worst nightmare, I think, and we've been very fortunate in Oklahoma over the years in that that has really never happened. This time we weren't so lucky...

  5. Hey E.J., prayers to your state and all the people affected by this. My friend here is from OK so we are working on getting some fundraisers and donations going. I'm very relieved to hear that your family made it through. I will spread the word. Hugs!

  6. I always think of the poor lost pets and their owners who must be so worried about them in situations like this. It's not the biggest priority, but it sure is hard to lose a furry friend. Thanks for providing an easy way to help them out.

    1. I totally agree, Lisa. Just watch the video of the woman finding her dog above. That little dog is all she cared about in the world--and she was literally standing in the rubble of her own home. Pets mean everything to lots of us, and we should try to help them, too. :)

  7. Moving post, so sad about all the disaster and loss of life. Thanks for sharing the more who are aware the more help that can come in.

  8. Such a tragedy, but help is on the way. Americans are wonderful about crisis situations! Glad to hear your family are well!

    Thanks for the links. I agree with you and Lisa, pets are like family and sadly these loving creatures need all the help they can get to survive through all this devastation.

    Many thoughts and prayers are whirling around the blogosphere today. Word is definitely getting out!

  9. I'm glad all your family are safe EJ.


  10. I already donated E.J. So glad to hear your family and loved ones are safe. It's a terrible thing to see this devastation.

  11. It's horrendous to see the scale of the damage on television. Thanks for the links; each of these look worthy for donations right now, and the people there are going to need the help.

  12. This post really made me tear up, and I haven't even really seen any news on this terrible event yet.

    Very glad that your family are safe.

  13. I lived in OKC for almost a year way back when and loved the people but found the weather even tougher to handle than Illinois storms were. Tornadoes terrify me. My cousins who still live there are safe, thank goodness, but I was in tears over the loss of children at school. Who can bear that?

  14. Wonderful blog! The damage there reminds me of Joplin, Stockton and Pierce City. Too many of these things the last few years.

  15. Thank you for this heartfelt post. Oklahoma will be in my thoughts and prayers for a long time. I posted a link to your blog today. I hope they are flooded with help from around the world.

  16. I'm in Texas as well with my mom, sister, nephew, and brother-in-law all in Oklahoma. The place we just went to have pictures made is no longer standing. I will continue praying for everyone affected and am sorry to hear that this hit close to your heart. Although I was very scared for them, my family is safe as well.

    We are having church groups organizing care packages to be sent and I will do what I can. I do have non-perishable foods and clothing that I can send so I will be doing that. We had major storms go through our area last night so we weren't home with computers, but I hope to ask my readers for any assistance they can add as well. Do you mind if I link to your post here? You have everything laid out well with great information provided on the help that can be given. Prayers to you and yours. Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven.

  17. This has been so devastating. The reports are heartwrenching. So glad your family is ok. I'll help spread the word, you've got great links that people need to see.

  18. What's happening in Oklahoma is so sad--and scary. Then again, tornadoes are in my top five things I fear the most.

  19. I tweeted this post. One of my cousins lives in Tulsa. I'm happy all your family is safe.

  20. My heart and head hurt when I see what they have endured! I know my daughter's school is doing a fund raiser. I will see what I can do...

    EJ I am happy your family is safe and will find a way to help your extended family. I get this rural vibe...I'm from rural-Oklahoma has so much heart, we need to embrace this cause and help!

  21. We've got family in Tulsa, so I hear you on the OK folks being such nice, close people. This was a great post to read.

  22. Your post is heartbreaking and inspiring. I'm going to talk to my boys about getting a box together of toys. It's not much. My heart aches.

  23. My heart goes out to everyone in Oklahoma and their friends and families. It is beyond words what they are all going through and will be going through after reality settles in. Your post is very touching and I appreciate the links to important ways to help. I am glad to see people reaching out to help those in need.

    I am glad your family in OK are alive, but I know that for those that have to rebuild their lived the road ahead is going to be filled with ups and downs. Sending them hugs.

  24. I'm glad to hear your family are alive, and my thoughts are with each of them as they rebuild. I have a lot of family in rural Oklahoma, but none in Moore. Thank you for passing along the ways people can help.


  25. Such a sad thing. Those tornadoes are so scary and the damage they can cause happens in such a short time.
    We drove through Oklahoma one time and it's just as you said - roads going on forever with big open fields. And of all places, it landed where it did.

  26. I'm getting caught up on my blog reading and just saw this post, EJ. I'm so glad that your family members were all safe, but so sorry for your cousins' losses. I can't imagine the process of trying to rebuild. Thanks for sharing the links of different ways to help. Hugs to you!

    And on a much lighter note, congrats on your new anthology release!

  27. My thoughts are with you and all those in OK. Thanks for sharing all those links and ways to help. I will check them out and do what I can.


“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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