Not much more than 24 hours and less than 150 miles away, Twinks and I stood in the sunny atrium of her new college home, and stared into a muddy pit just outside the windows.
"That's the new basement - it will be the storm shelter for the dorms, and of course they are building the new dining hall on top of it!". The RA was justifiably excited and proud - after all, the new building is going to be state-of-the-art, and will make a huge impact on the tiny campus that will be Twinks home-away-from-home for the next several years.
I shuddered inside, thinking of the students cowering in the basement as a tornado potentially raked the surface above. But my rational mind kicked in, and reminded me that this school had been here - all of it's original buildings still intact - since 1909. No tornado had dared to climb College Hill in the last 100+ years, and likely never would. Right?
Not much more than 2 hours later, and still less than 150 miles away, we stood, stunned and silent as we tried to process what we saw on the TV in Twinks new dorm room.
At first, I thought that they were re-running the video from 1999... or even the 2010 tornado season. The caption on the screen said "Moore, Oklahoma" but I just couldn't process that it had happened... again.
Only this time, there were schools that had been hit. And a hospital. And businesses, and houses... so many, many, many houses.
The news helicopter showed the raw wound that the storm left in it's wake; thousands of cars turned in to rumpled balls of metal, trees stripped bare of leaves and bark, and 20 miles of structures reduced to splinters.
As I write this, 24 hours after the storm, it is still unclear how many lives have been lost; they are still digging through the shattered elementary school, and officials are trying to count the wounded, the homeless, and the cost.
The people of my home state are amazing. We are tough, proud, and fiercely loyal. But we are also human, and today my heart hurts for every family that has been touched by this disaster.
Soon enough, the clouds will clear, and the weather will settle. We will, collectively, rebuild and restore what the storm took.
But for now, for today, we are as shattered and splintered as the wreckage.