In the aftermath of the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado, I was at ground zero capturing both the heartbreaking destruction and devastation as well as the heartwarming recovery efforts in the community. In my time working with SKY News, and interacting with the local community, I snapped hundreds of frames. Here is a compilation of 11 wacky, funny, and random photos from my time in and around Moore. They are in chronological order, and I found them all on my memory card. Hopefully this can provide people with a good laugh to combat this disaster!
1. Taking Cover in Tulsa
My mother had just seen the tornado warning for the Tulsa area on the news and began to clean out our shelter area. Here you can see, from left to right, myself, my sister, and her friend. We are properly prepared, with proper head protection, our trusty emergency radio, snacks, and tools for digging out of any potential rubble and debris created by the tornado.
2. Covering the Story for PolicyMic
I risked life and limb to write my early article for PolicyMic. Well, not really. As soon as the major threat for the Tulsa area subsided, I ran to my laptop and then began to write my articles for PolicyMic. I did however remain in proper safety gear the entire time to keep myself in the disaster mentality.
3. Grilling a Twister Steak
After I wrote my articles for PolicyMic, I began to grill my rib eye steak that I had been fantasizing about for the past few hours. The Tulsa area was downgraded from a 'tornado warning' to a 'tornado watch' so I was able to shed my safety gear.
4. Car Engine in an Empty Lot
During my first day at ground zero in Moore, I took this picture of an engine. There were no cars in the immediate area and this was located in an empty lot. The nearest car was down the street by about 30 yards. This would have definitely been a deadly projectile during the tornado.
5. Tensions Flare in Traffic Snare
On the first day of the recovery, the Oklahoma National Guard was called in to regulate and enforce the emergency policies. They did an absolutely amazing job and the soldiers I interacted with could not have been nicer. At this road block, the driver in front of me was mad that he could not go down the road that was closed for repairs. After he was told "no" he exited his truck and began to remove the road block himself. Guardsmen swarmed in and attempted to diffuse the situation. After a heated exchange, the man decided to leave and peeled out in the process. I was able to grab a short clip of the exchange, but the quality of the video is a bit poor.
6. A News Crew Getting Rejected
I was able to score my SKY News team an exclusive interview and look inside the Wayland Bonds Elementary School. We then retreated across the street to setup camp in a church parking lot when the kids began to arrive. Well, the news crew in this photo was not my news crew. So when they proceeded to cross the street to set up their shot on school property, they were quickly rejected. After they resisted the initial orders from the police officer on duty and back-up was called over to assist in their removal, I snapped this Abbey Road-esque photo of them sauntering back to the church parking lot.
7. Bullet Holes in a Gas Line Sign
The location that we were setup at in the church parking lot was at the edge of the property line. Directly behind us was this sign that warned of a dangerous high pressure gas line. The rust indicated that the damage was not anything recent. The wacky part is that the damage looks to be a result of a mixture of ammunition, such as .45, 9mm, and buck shot. Just a side effect of life in the South I suppose.
8. A Blast from the Past
Floppy discs, as our generation knows them in their 3.5" incarnation, are a product of a bygone technological era. So when I saw this 5" floppy in a pool of water just yards away from the tornado's path I knew I had to take a picture. Something like this seems like it would be in the debris of a tornado from the 1980's not the 2010's.
9. Living a Sheltered Life
My Sky News producer decided that we should pursue a storm shelter angle in our coverage. I did some research and found a storm shelter business in Norman. My producer gave me one of our camera men, Jake Britton [who actually snapped this photo of me], and we headed out to the shelter site. We scored a great interview and were allowed to tour their facility. This was their demo model and I just could not resist.
10. Woof, Woof!
When we were leaving the storm shelter business, this dog was barking at us from next door. I switched on my high contrast black and white filter and captured this great shot. Say what you want about this breed, but he was quite photogenic.
11. The Obligatory Cat Picture
Every good viral sensation has some connection to cats. Grumpy Cat, Keyboard Cat, and numerous others. So here is my attempt. I shot this picture as I was waiting on the Sky News crew to join me for dinner. I heard mewing while siting in my truck and this strikingly ferocious feline was staring at me. Luckily this kitty stayed still long enough for me to snap this photo.