Butler County Times Gazette
  • Moore, Okla., resident shares her tornado experience

  • For one Moore, Okla, resident, Cindy Megonigle, the massive tornado Monday spared her house, but she has been seeing first-hand the devastation through her involvement in the recovery and clean-up efforts.
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  • For one Moore, Okla, resident, Cindy Megonigle, the massive tornado Monday spared her house, but she has been seeing first-hand the devastation through her involvement in the recovery and clean-up efforts.
    Megonigle, who is the sister of El Dorado resident Amanda Hilyard, was at work when the warnings for the possibility of tornadoes first came out.
    "I actually work for a small, private school," she said. "I am a security officer and the business manager and I were all morning trying to figure out if we should cancel school."
    The have a board who makes decisions for the school.
    "We went against most of our board members and said we don't feel right about this and went ahead and sent out an e-mail and were calling parents by about 11 a.m.," she said.
    By 2 p.m. there were only two students left at their school, Megonigle and her daughter, and the business manager. They called the parents of the remaining students to notify them the business manager was taking them with her to her basement.
    "On the way home I almost diverted to her house because the tornado was behind us," Megonigle said. "We kept on going. Our route home is 4th Street that goes through Moore and it was right behind us."
    She said she called a friend to see exactly where the tornado was headed and if she could make it home. The tornado had slowed down, which also meant it got bigger, so Megonigle was able to make it home.
    "It was crazy trying to get home," she said.
    She said they went straight to their shelter.
    "It (the tornado) went right across the street from us," she said.
    After the tornado had passed she went to check on her friend who she had been on the phone with and said her kids and husband were all OK.
    "We could barely get texts through," she said. "The lines were al down so we couldn't call."
    The first night after the tornado, Moore, a former law enforcement officer, worked with the first responders, and since she has been working as a volunteer along with so many other people.
    "It's crazy actually," she said Thursday morning. "Right now it is storming, everything is flooding and nobody can get in to do anything."
    She said Wednesday was the first sunny day they had to get in and help with some of the clean-up to clear roads and remove debris.
    "We couldn't work five minutes without someone stopping and asking if we needed water, food or sunscreen," she said.
    She said just at their small church where they have 130 to 200 members, they have more than 1,000 people coming out to help.
    Page 2 of 2 - "You could tell the people who had been here before when the tornado hit," she said. "They fell in line and knew what to do."
    Their last massive tornado was in 1999.
    The tornado on Monday was 1.3 miles wide and was reclassified as an EF5. It carved a 20-mile path through the area.
    The town also is in need of donations.
    "Really it's clothes and toiletries," she said.
    She said people are in need of underwear and socks for all ages, as well as diapers.
    "We have people, what they have on is pretty much it," she said.
    Even those who still have items in their homes, if their windows were blown out, there is insulation spread throughout the house and they can't wash it out of their clothes or bedding.
    Because of that, they also are in need of pillows and bedding.
    One other major need right now is for gift cards, such as to Walmart or Target, or cash so the people can buy the necessities that aren't being donated.
    Megonigle said she thought people were starting to cope.
    "Unfortunately, on days like today with the storm it is is just down time," she said. "Any time you have such a big disaster if people can get in and start getting their stuff that depression doesn't start to set in. When you have storms like this you have nothing to do but set and think about it."
    Rain has been forecast for the area for the next week.
    All of the volunteers and help does offer hope though.
    "Everybody was helping each other; it was wonderful," Megonigle said.
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