Monday, April 19, 2010

Where were you when...???

I remember that day like it was yesterday. Today marks the 15th anniversary of the OKC bombing. I was working at DHS, about 5 miles or so from the Murrah Building. Our desks were in the hall because they were putting new carpet in our work area. I remember feeling this movement and thinking it must be the machine they were using to smooth the floor before putting the carpet in. I looked up at the clock before going down to see a client: it was 9:02am.

When I went to reception, someone said there had been a bomb at the Federal Building downtown. I didn't think much of it because working for the government, bomb threats weren't exactly uncommon. I had no idea....

As the reports started coming in, there was a call for blood donors. This is one part of the day that I don't remember: I went to the Oklahoma Blood Institute with two girls I worked with but I cannot remember who. We got there and the line was around the block! There were people and emergency vehicles everywhere. We stood in line for about 45 minutes when they finally said they were only taking those with O- blood; only one of us had O neg blood so the other girl and I waited for her and then went back to our office. The building had been evacuated because of further threats. The only one there was a security guard. He told us to get our stuff and get out, if we weren't back in 5 minutes, he was coming after us. I ran up the stairs to my desk, grabbed my stuff and ran all the way to my car. I drove about 75 mph all the way to Edmond. I stopped to see my friend Donna before going home. When I got to her office, she just hugged me because she wasn't sure where my office was compared to the Murrah Building. It wasn't until then that I saw what had happened. It was unbelievable! It still is, 15 years later.

I couldn't stop watching. That night, I was to fly to NYC to meet my sister. It was so surreal to be in NYC watching the news and seeing YOUR town.

When I got home, I found out that I was going to be working at the Recovery Service Center for bombing victims with FEMA. I had done this before after a flood in 1993, so I thought it would be similar. We had no contact with the people we were helping. This wasn't the case this time. People came into the Recovery Service Center and we talked to them. When I first found out, I was scared to death! What would I say to these people? It was the most amazing experience I have ever had. It was so healing to talk to people, to listen, to hug them. It truly was a blessing.

I'll never forget that day.......