Surviving Moore

A Father's Perspective on the Moore, Oklahoma Tornado

If you are able, please donate to my community. Visit the Red Cross and donate to help rebuild and support Moore, Oklahoma, my friends and community or call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit to donate.

I didn’t sleep much last night, but I’m thankful to be alive. Living in Oklahoma, a place I’ve called home for nearly 8 years, tornadoes are something we tolerate and certainly don’t enjoy. I live in Moore, Oklahoma and live one block from yesterday’s devastating destruction. I nearly escaped death. Today, I’m solemn, heartbroken and lucky to be alive.

I live just 1 block from the devastation in Moore, Oklahoma and barely survived. As the sirens went off yesterday afternoon, I rushed to pre-school to pick up my 4 year old daughter, Ryleigh. Sirens mean that a tornado has touched down in the area but during storm season in Oklahoma, it’s old hat. We keep our eye on the sky to really know if a tornado is coming our way. As I made my way I passed the Moore Hospital, the 7-11, and Briarwood Elementary on my way to pick up Ryleigh. Little did I know, my daughters school was in the path of the storm. Hell, I watched the funnel fall from the sky.

I caught Ryleigh and her class heading to the shelter at school and we rushed to the car where I happened to have the luck to watch the twister come down from the sky. I’ve never seen something so beautiful in my life. I watched in awe, took enough time to snap a pic and got the hell outta there. The picture you see is taken by me as my car stopped to make a left turn onto 4th street heading east. Everything west of that point in ruins although I can’t drive down the street to verify. I drove like hell away from the swirling mass with hail smacking my car even considering taking refuge under the 7-11. It’s gone and I was one of the last cars to drive down that street. I’m happy to be alive.

My family is lucky. We are alive and after an hour and a half drive back to our home, it’s still standing. Trash and insulation pepper our yard and home. We are one block from ground zero and my heart aches for my neighbors, my friends and our community. I feel numb.

This morning reality set in and I found a photo of a young girl in my yard. We are safe but stranded and unable to leave our home. Ryleigh, who is 4 is drawing pictures to work through the reality. I just pray for her school friends and their family. Hoping they are safe.

If you are able, please donate to my community. Visit the Red Cross and donate to help rebuild and support Moore, Oklahoma, my friends and community or call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit to donate.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Lisa Bonner says

    Thank you Jessica for sharing your heart-wrenching story. I’m so happy that you and your family are safe, and will continue to pray for all!

  2. Linda B. says

    Thank you for this update. We are thinking of you, your friends, and neighbors. You are in our hearts and prayers.

  3. Keith says

    Very happy you are doing well, considering all that is surrounding you. Certainly wishing you and the community all the best throughout the rebuilding and healing process.

  4. Cameron Comstock says

    Im relieved to hear you, your family and your home are ok. Thank you for the instructions about how to donate. So happy to do my part for those in need.

  5. Aaron Butler says

    Thank you for sharing. It is a terrible tragedy and many prayers go out to those who have lost homes and loved ones. God bless.

    Aaron Butler

  6. Brook Rasmussen says

    I just wanted to reiterate how glad we are that you and your family made it through this terrible ordeal. We are also thinking positive thoughts for those who were not as fortunate.

  7. Rebel says

    So glad you are ok! As soon as I heard it I thought of you. I knew you lived close to OKC but did not realize that you lived in Moore! Praying for your community!

  8. Fred says

    Jessica, all that seemed to be so far away, as I was watching the news here from Germany. It comes much closer when someone you know tells their personal story. We don’t personally know each other, I am just a more or less regular visitor of your website where I saw your post this morning as I was doing some research about HR topics. But how unimportant do all these things become when you are in a situation like this where life and death are so close to each other. So happy that you and your daughter made it home safely.

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      Hi Fred,

      Thank you for your comment. Technology and social media are great for information sharing and to bring us together. They also have given me a lot of strength during this emotional time. It’s been extremely hard talking to my daughter but she has been so resilient. Comments, conversations and tweets have been so important to keeping me sane and positive. I hope that it’s the same for others too.


  9. Lisa Rosendahl says

    Wow, that was close. So relieved you and your family are safe. Wishing you and your community the best.


  1. […] If you’ve been following me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, you know that I’ve been posting live updates and information as I am aware  in relation to the devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma on May 20th, 2013. My house is 1 block from all the damage, and this morning I was able to leave my house for the first time in 2 days. Since I am so close to ground zero, I have been helping in any way I can using my mobile phone to drive information and assistance. Yesterday, with the help of Blake, my community manager, I was able to blog about the events in Surviving Moore. […]


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