MOORE, Okla. - WOKV listener Heath Williams was able to get us in touch with his brother, an Oklahoma fire chief who’s part of the search, rescue and recovery effort in Moore.
“We’ve got a lot of recovery to do,” says Chief Jared Williams. “Not only physical recovery but mental recovery as well.”
When he talked to WOKV’s Gene Wexler around 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning, he said he’d been on the scene since 6 p.m. Monday. He’s with a crew of 50 other first responders searching for survivors in the rubble.
“We just got total destruction everywhere we can see.”
Williams tells us that finding survivors never gets old.
“It’s just very rewarding for the crews….Anybody we can find somebody alive, it just gives our crews renewed energy and makes it worthwhile what we’re out here doing.”
He says his rescue crew won’t stop until every area has been searched at least once.
“We’ll go until we can’t go anymore.”
Williams describes what his state calls “the Oklahoma standard.”
“We will step up and we’ll take care of our own,” he says. “We’re exemplary of the United States. The people here do a group job of looking out and taking care of each other.”
Williams also responded during the 1999 tornado outbreak in Oklahoma City, and he says it doesn't make sense to compare the two.
“It really doesn’t. I mean each one of them are just very catastrophic storms. Very labor-intensive. Lots of life lost.”
He says the storm center there predicted a possible tornado outbreak for days.
“This was a long-track tornado. It’d been on the ground for about 30 to 45 miles. So they had good warning.”
He says this disaster was tough because it happened during the day while children were at school and parents were at work, making it harder for them to prepare.
A lot of people chose to ride out the storm from their home.
“Some people just don’t want to leave their home because that is their home. And we understand that,” Williams says.
Just like Florida, he says Oklahoma officials are prepared for natural disasters like this, and so the entire state is coming together to help the city of Moore.
“We appreciate you folks down in Florida and just ask that you keep the responders and the citizens of Oklahoma in your prayers.”