As I drove closer to the path the tornado had taken in Moore, Oklahoma, it looked like I was driving into a blast zone. The shear and utter devastation of the EF-5 tornado reduced the town of Moore to rubble. The aftermath of the severe weather looked like an air strike had hit these neighborhoods. The path of the tornado scarred the land of Moore and created an instant war zone.
At numerous intersections, I encountered members of the Oklahoma National Guard. They asked me for my credentials and advised me on the best route for the news media staging area. The day before in Tulsa, I had loaded my pick-up truck with cases of water and Powerade. When I would approach the National Guard road blocks and police officers, I would offer them the contents of my truck bed.
The I-35 highway that bisects Moore was backed up for the entire day, and at its peak was moving a snail's pace. Thanks to an outstanding law enforcement presence, the knocked out traffic lights did not impede traffic. I got to know the officers around the news media staging area, and they would kindly allow me to take short cuts through the road blocks.
SKY New's live point was right next to Fox News' staging area, which led to some interesting encounters. The two are both owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a very conservative Republican, was on site to survey the damage. After she did her interview with Fox News, she spoke with us.
After the morning news block we had some free time, and I walked the streets of ground zero. The scenes were unfathomable. People's entire lives were shattered by the tornado and those broken pieces littered their yards. The contrast was quite stark. There would be a house that looked like it only suffered from wind damage and minor cosmetic issues, while across the street, the only thing left was a foundation with a heap of wood and twisted metal.
The area hit near the highway was a shopping center. The Warren Moore was hit fairly bad, but the bowling alley only a few yards away was completely leveled. There were bowling balls in the wreckage and they also peppered the parking lot in a few places as well.
The parking lot was littered with cars. If there was every any question about why you should leave your vehicle for a safer location during a tornado, the scene here was clear evidence. Yes, these vehicles are crash tested for their road worthy purposes, but during a tornado, they would serve as nothing else but a steel coffin.
In fact, the amount of cars present provided some interesting opportunities for some striking images.
One of the highlights of the day was seeing numerous media personalities and getting to meet with a few of them. I was part journalist, part journalist fan-boy.
On the left side, we have Wolf Blitzer and John King from CNN and on the right side, we have Jonathon Hunt and Shepard Smith from Fox News. I probably watch Fox News more than Fox News viewers watch Fox News (I am actually watching it right now as I write this too). So being able to see these guys up close and in person was quite the thrill. I do have to say that the Fox News crew was laid back and really approachable. I got to talk with Jonathon and Shep over the course of the afternoon.
Lastly, this is my favorite picture I took just at day break. In the photo you can see the numerous satellite vans, a police car, and to the left, a storm tracker truck. It is quite poetic and illustrative of the larger scene on Wednesday.
Much like the new dawn I captured in my photo, the city of Moore will persevere and continue in to another day. the recovery efforts I saw were inspiring. Trucks were driving around town with refreshments in their beds and would offer water and sports drinks to the cops working vigilantly.
After a tough day's work, I went home and passed out on my bed, sleeping for about a solid 12 hours. I am out there again today and will get new photos if and when they open up new areas. Phone coverage in the area has been spotty, but follow me on Twitter @TheNolanK. I will try to live tweet about my second day. Additionally, check out my earlier PolicyMic article to get the full background on the Moore tornado and learn how you can help with the relief efforts.