Phillip Wise on Monday chased one of the most ferocious tornadoes to touch down in Oklahoma in years.
Through his windshield from a half-mile out, the Category 5 twister was not so much a funnel but a shapeless, swirling wall of mud, pieces of homes, and airborne cars and horses.
He is not a thrill-seeking storm tracker, and he works for neither the National Weather Service nor the Weather Channel. He is a police officer, for 27 years and counting.
Lieutenant Wise, 52, pursued the tornado that flattened parts of this Oklahoma City suburb on Monday as if it were a perpetrator, trailing it in his patrol car because he knew there would be mass injuries and people in need in its wake.
He was far from his normal terrain — the suburb of Bethany, 21 miles northwest of Moore — and as an employee of the Bethany Police Department, there was nothing in his job description requiring that he risk his life chasing violent forces of nature outside his jurisdiction for his $62,000 annual salary.
But his pursuit led him to a destroyed 7-Eleven store, where he helped pull people from the rubble, some alive and some dead. Across the country, firefighters, police officers and paramedics run toward danger while others run away from it. The danger is often a fire, a shooting, an explosion. In Tornado Alley, the first responders’ instinct is the same, but the danger is not — they shadow the storms while the twisters are on the ground, following them while others crouch in closets or shelters, hoping to be close enough to the destruction that they might save lives.
“We were self-deploying, basically,” Lieutenant Wise said. “When the Murrah bombing happened in ’95, four of us just jumped in one police car and we were down there 30, 35 minutes after it happened,” he said of the deadly attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City. “We get paid to do a job, and we do it. When tornadoes and bombs or whatever happens, we have to be there, because if we’re not, I think a lot of other people will die.”
(Photo: Eric Thayer / The New York Times)
No feeling better than putting foot to pavement on a warm oklahoma night to get your mind off of the world. #longboard #pdp #stoklahoma #arbor #latenight
Remington Apartments in OKC are giving away free apartments for the people who lost their homes!! So if you know anyone who doesn’t have a home anymore please let them know!
7125 South Santa Fe Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK 73139
This is what a neighborhood in Moore, OK looked like shortly before and after the tornado. If you can donate, do it. If youbcan volunteer, do it. If you can give blood, do it. Even if you are in the outlying states, do it.
Oklahoma needs it.
Also, if you are local, on Thursday the kids from Plaza Tower (the elementary school that was leveled) and Briarwood are going to be at Eastlake Elementary and Wayland Bonds Elementary to say goodbye to their teachers and classmates for the summer. Theybare trying to get 1200 goodie bags with stuffed animals and coloring books and other things for these kids before Thursday, donations can be dropped off at both of those “host” schools.
Come on, guys. Some of these kids lost everything, including their homes and pets and in some cases, classmates and family members!
Do your best! !
I will say, the worst thing about all this is it being literally 5 miles away. The loss, destruction and devastation. All the misplaced families, missing people or pets, is such a heart break. The most uplifting thing, though, is that sense of belonging, that Oklahoma spirit that triumphs over all. No matter the disaster or devastation, you will see all Oklahoman’s unite to help each other, despite differences, to achieve success over a normally disastrous outcome. It is that Oklahoma pride that will endure and see the finality of triumph. It is the dedication to each other, family or not, that will see this through. Through all the events this state has suffered, we will always lead the nation in perseverance and determination to win this fight. We are Oklahoma. We are Oklahoma strong. We WILL lead this nation by example with our dedication and compassion. We will lead this nation to success after defeat. We are a people, united by a bond unseen, that will persevere and prosper, despite circumstances. For that is the Oklahoma creed and way. We are Oklahoma strong!
After the storm. #norman #oklahoma #tornado
After the storm. Crazy looking clouds. #norman #oklahoma #tornado