McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

November 20, 2013

First responders relive harrowing day

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Following the storm, Lewis remembered the chaos that ensued for about eight to nine hours. He remembered not really realizing the scope of the disaster because power was out and TVs were off. A note of disbelief can still be heard in his voice when he talks about how much destruction the massive tornado caused.

“Right after it was very difficult to get around and grasp what all is affected,” he said. “It’s hard to comprehend that it’s so large. So that was probably the toughest part right off, just the amount of area (it affected).”

The police department didn’t realize just how bad it was until they started seeing the images on TV, he said.

“We had guys hollering for help all over the city,” Lewis said. “You go through one area and think this area is really, really bad and then you go through another area on the other side of the city and it’s even worse.”

Moore has had large tornadoes in the past, but this was different than any of those they had dealt with before, he said. This one traveled through the entire city. Lewis said it also was more difficult for a lot of officers as well, seeing much of the city they are in everyday destroyed.

“I would say this affected our department differently than any disaster we’ve had so far just because it was so tragic and the amount of devastation to our entire city was just so more significant than the storms in the past,” Lewis said.

“Just by nature our whole goal is to protect people, especially children, and when you have children who perish and there’s absolutely nothing you can do, you feel kinda helpless,” he said. “That gets to guys and it did. You know, we had guys there that were having to dig the kids out and not finding them alive, it affects guys.”

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