Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Explaining Oklahoma

            I am sure that anyone who lives in Oklahoma cannot possibly read the comments on any online news story about the tornadoes without experiencing a reaction ranging from an eye-roll to the need to punch someone in the face.  The ignorance about my home state is astounding.  Here are some common misconceptions about my state related to tornadoes.

  1. People in Oklahoma are so stupid!  They don’t have basements!

Before you assume that the reason most of us do not have basements is that we are just “dumb Okies,” do some research.  Until recent advances in building materials, homes actually COULD NOT be built with basements.  The water in the soil would make homes with basements unstable; therefore, homes were built on solid foundations without basements.  Now there are ways to waterproof basements, but the majority of homes are older and you cannot just add on a basement. (for more information click here)

  1. School is out for snow days; why wasn’t it out for a tornado day?

Well, if we let out school every time a tornado was possible, kids would be out of school from March through June.  What people do not seem to understand is that a storm can turn into a tornado quickly and without much warning.  It is not like a hurricane that you see coming on a radar for days.  By the time you know a tornado is coming, it is too late to send kids home.  They are safer staying at school then traveling in a car, bus, or walking home.  Furthermore, kids are often safer at school than at home.  A young child home alone (as he or she would most likely be) might not know what to do.  While it is a tragedy beyond belief that 9 children died in the Moore tornado, many survived because their heroic teachers covered them with their own bodies.

  1. The schools should do more to protect children from tornadoes.

When you take a direct hit from an F5 tornado, there really isn’t much you can do.  And, while I am in no way making light of the tragedy that occurred, it rarely happens.  Your child is more likely to die in accident than a tornado.  There are many other safety factors schools should be working on.  Really, what more did you want the teachers to do?  They took the kids to the safest possible place and covered them with their own bodies.  The teachers could not stop that tornado from hitting the school.  I am sorry to tell you, but you just can’t prevent every possible tragic occurrence.

  1. Why do these people live in tornado alley?

This is best answered with questions.  Why do you live in California where there are earthquakes?  Why do you live in the north where there are blizzards?  Why do you live on the coast where there are hurricanes?  This is probably the dumbest question that comes up whenever a tornado makes national news.

  1. If students could pray in school, this never would have happened.

I am tired of hearing that students can’t pray in school.  They most certainly can.  In fact, Oklahoma has a STATE MANDATED moment of silence in every school every day to give kids time to pray.  Yes.  They have forced time to pray in school every day.  I am not even going to comment on the other absurdity present in this assumption—that somehow praying averts all disasters.

There are many more misconceptions I could list, but I think these are the most common ones floating around recently.  Please feel free to share this whenever you see this type of ignorance.