Natural disasters keep us down to earth
We as individuals, and collectively as a culture, spend an inordinate amount of time and resources trying to control our environment.
We leave climate-controlled houses and travel in temperature-controlled vehicles to work, where powerful HVAC systems seal out the elements and lock in the temperature and humidity.
It's easy to conclude that the weather, like most other things in our lives, is something to be managed. We think of bad weather as more of an inconvenience than a matter of life or death.
But occasionally the forces of nature converge with such a power and fury that we are reminded of the indifference of the elements to our attempts to control them.
The monster tornado that struck Moore and south Oklahoma City was over one mile wide, with winds of 200 mph.
The official death toll stands at 24, with 240 injured. Some of the victims were children who were caught in schools that were in the path of the twister.
In a matter of seconds, entire neighborhoods were demolished as though struck by a huge bomb. A heartbroken country watched as shocked survivors picked through the debris.
The Daily Oklahoman reported on the scene at one hard-hit school.
"As night fell, relatives were crying out for their children at Plaza Towers, where they said more than 20 children were missing and feared dead."
President Obama offered words of comfort, saying Americans would stand with the people of Oklahoma now, just as we did with the people of Boston and other tragedies.
"For all those who have been affected, you recognize that you face a long road ahead. In some cases there'll be enormous grief that has to be absorbed, but you will not travel that path alone," Obama said.
"Your country will travel with you, fueled by our faith in the almighty and our faith in one another."
The president added that we would back up our words with deeds.
Admirably, the West Virginia University baseball team was quick to respond.
The Mountaineers are in Oklahoma City for the Big 12 baseball tournament. The team is staying about 10 miles from where the tornado hit.
Coach Randy Mazey got on the phone shortly after the storm hit to offer manpower. The coach then took the team to the store, where they bought supplies for storm victims.
Outfielder Kevin Cohen Tweeted: "Just met a lady who lost everything today. . . I'm glad we were able to supply her with the necessities."
First baseman Ryan McBroom Tweeted, "Take nothing for granted. Give back to the state of Oklahoma for what they are going through. Stay strong, guys. Thoughts and prayers go out."
Good advice from McBroom.
The advances in science and technology can lull us into a false sense of security, especially when it comes to the chaotic forces of nature.
Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.