Surveying our priorities

Surveying our priorities

Another week has passed in which I had to restrain myself from blogging before all the pertinent stories evolved.  It has been another week of Oklahoma in the national spotlight.  On the upside, the Oklahoma Sooners advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.  Sadly, they were eliminated last night by Michigan State.  It was a fun ride while it lasted and provided a healthy diversion from the grim reality of living in Tornado Alley.

Oh yes, spring has arrived bringing along storm season with it.  On Wednesday afternoon two tornadoes, one an EF2 in magnitude, struck west of the Tulsa community of Sand Springs leaving one dead and several dispossessed and displaced from their homes.  Some damage was also done to the Blue Dome and Brady Arts Districts adjacent to Downtown Tulsa by gale force winds and heavy rain.  Other communities were damaged by severe weather however the only fatality reported was in Sand Springs.  After declaring a state of emergency for 25 counties in Oklahoma, Governor Fallin and some other officials visited the site of devastation and surveyed the damage.   As the governor stated, many local charities along with friends and neighbors pitched in to help with the clean up and restoration in true Oklahoma fashion.

Nearly two years ago, when the town of Moore was struck by an EF 5 tornado which resulted in the deaths of several school children at two elementary schools, there was a push in the state legislature to equip all public schools with safe rooms.  However, in the end it was determined to be cost prohibitive because tax cuts were favored over public school safe rooms.  The issue is being addressed by individual school districts.  On March 3rd, Tulsa Public School had the safe rooms as part of a larger bond issue.  The bond issue was passed by a large margin.  One question that came up in Sand Springs during the Governor’s visit was that of required safe rooms for mobile home parks.  This was an idea that never made it through the legislature again due to the prohibitive costs.  Even though every safe room or safe shelter survived previous tornadoes intact, it is a popular idea that if you can run away from a storm that is the preferred plan.

There is nothing like a natural or manmade disaster to help you learn who your friends are.  I am proud of how the community has rallied around those left homeless or dispossessed by the storms.  With the way things have been going for us on this reddest stretch of Old Route 66, we have to look for positives where we can.