Bart Hirt considers himself lucky because even though he lives in Moore, Okla., where a devastating tornado hit May 20, he and his family were not in the path of the storm.
“For six or seven hours, our cell reception was knocked out .... As soon as we got it back, I had about 30 messages” and contacted relatives to tell them he and his family were OK.
The 1987 Batesville High School graduate, who is the son of Lynn and the late Dave Hirt, says he was at home with his two youngest children at the time.
“It’s so common out here to have tornado warnings, and we do have a storm cellar, but you don’t rush down there. You just listen.” The only effect from the twister he saw at his residence was “debris that flew from the sky – shingles, insulation and tons of paper.”
His wife, Sarah, was at work and safely away from the tornado, as was their oldest daughter, 11, who was at school.
“It was scary, but once I knew I was in the clear, I watched the storm – which was about a mile away – from my driveway .... When the tornado goes through, it sounds like a huge jet going by for 15-20 minutes. It’s wrapped up in rain, and when you really look, there’s debris flying all around. It’s pretty awesome.”
What did the damaged areas look like afterwards? “It’s like what you see on TV, but 10 times worse. Everything’s gone, ripped out of the ground. The houses and trees are gone. The grass and ground are gone.”
Hirt, who has lived in that area since 1995, says, “This was definitely the closest a tornado has come to our house.”
As far as how the community is dealing with the tragedy, he says, “We get a lot of support from everywhere .... People fly in that used to live here and are bringing supplies. They just pour their hearts out.” He believes the best way for people to donate is through the Red Cross/Oklahoma.