• Tue, May 21 2013

Anonymous Organizes #OpOk For Oklahoma And Once Again Makes Me Believe In Superheroes

Anonymous Aids Oklahoma Tornado VictimsYesterday afternoon I was doing what so many of you were doing , watching the news and feeling like my heart was broken in a million pieces. There are times when the grief is almost too huge to even contemplate, when you think of the vast and immense numbers, at least 91 dead and 20 of those children, including the seven who were found drowned at The Plaza Towers. You watch the news and see the obliteration, buildings and homes replaced by mud and water, the people sobbing on television as they explain to news reporters they no longer have a home, they can’t find their children.

When the horrible Boston Marathon bombings happened a little over a month ago, a quote was used in numerous news article from Fred Rogers:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

And the horrible devastation in Oklahoma is no different. There are helpers, going door to door and looking to make sure neighbors are safe. First responders who are there doing what they can to rescue people. Emergency workers who are digging through debris and using jackhammers to to tear away concrete to retrieve the bodies of missing children. And Anonymous who is organizing #OpOK.

 

Because I don’t live near Oklahoma I do what so many other people do. We watch the news and hug our own children extra tight and donate what we can to the Red Cross and sign on the Internet to try and connect with others, because when the grief and horror is too big we need that, we need to commiserate and console each other and try and make sense of the senseless. I signed on Twitter and expressed my sadness for the people of Oklahoma. And I am not there, but within moments I had two messages in my folder. One was from an Anonymous I started talking to during the Sandy Hook tragedy. The other was from an Anon who I hardly know, someone I have maybe exchanged one tweet with, a large account with tens of thousands of followers. And both messages said basically the same thing, I know this is awful. I am here for you. And I am nobody, this is not my tragedy because I am hundreds of miles away in my safe and sound home with my children safe and sound, and I am just a mom who can’t even begin to fathom the level of grief and terror so many parents in Oklahoma are feeling. But to these two Anonymous, that didn’t matter. My sadness did.

Almost anyone familiar with Anonymous will have different opinions about the group that isn’t even a group because there are no membership dues and no secret handshake and no requirements to join Anonymous. I have suggested before that anyone wanting to do their part to make the world better is Anonymous, but my definition is probably wrong too. To some people you ask they are computer hackers or “domestic terrorists” or these people in the Guy Fawkes masks who care about politics or the Occupy Movement or the collective gaggle of people who enjoy making life difficult for The Westboro Baptist Church. I think in many ways, Anonymous is what you are looking for, and if you are looking for hackers this is what you see. But as a mom I am usually looking for the helpers, and in Oklahoma and so many other places this is what they are.

Anonymous and #Amerisec has released this pastebin for people interested in the Oklahoma relief efforts. On twitter you can follow #OpOk for second-by-second updates on ways you can help if you are in the area or ways you can help if you aren’t. Because Anonymous is made up of people as diverse as you can contemplate, law enforcement, emergency workers, doctors, nurses, animal control workers, teachers and parents may be involved at any time. I think the only true operative is that anyone help in any way they are able.

Oklahoma is heartbreaking and beyond tragic. The helpers I have found are not only those I have seen on the news in yellow hats and safety vests, but those who have no name and no identity, and the only collective agreement that as humans on this planet we need to do anything we can to help. When horrible things like this happen we want and need superheroes, and we want to be able to help those who have lost so much for no other reason than the misfortunes of geography. The heroes are out there, not only in the uniforms of the police, firefighters and doctors, but wearing the masks of Guy Fawkes. From a mom, thank you Anonymous.

(Image: You Tube)

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  • daly_beauty

    How can schools, or any structure, be built in “tornado alley” without basements or somewhere safe to hide? Where is the government regulation keeping it’s citizens safe???

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      I don’t have the answer for that. It may have to do with cost, or soil conditions, or mold concerns. But for me at this point it doesn’t matter, because we don’t have a wayback machine, and all those kids are dead, and it breaks my heart in a thousand ways. I’m sure if it would have been possible to have basements they would have. But I think in some severe tornado conditions even basements or storm shelters can’t guarantee safety.

    • Justme

      Is it weird that I’m sitting in my classroom, on my conference period and under a tornado watch/warning for the entire day and into the night….and I’m thinking about Eve Vawter and our romantical conversation about tornado season in Texas?

      For the record, my dogs are locked in their kennel which is in the closet under the stairs. My daughter’s baby-sitter has her downstairs bathroom stocked and ready to go. I’ve reviewed the emergency weather plans for my school and classroom. Soccer games and all outside school activities have been cancelled for the evening. That’s really all we can do before the storms hit.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      awwww, am thinking of you too. stay safe, and you need to write a book.

    • http://twitter.com/TwAlexLee Alex Lee

      How?

      Cost savings. http://www.examiner.com/article/flattened-oklahoma-schools-not-built-for-tornado-alley

      As for government regulation, I won’t explore the politics. It’s too….nauseating.

    • chickadee

      That is so awful. I know that it costs about $2000-3000 to add a bunker closet when you are building a new home, but that it costs about twice that much to convert an existing closet to a bunker room. I just think that in tornado-prone regions it should be standard procedure.

    • Alex Lee

      Just watched Rachel Maddow. She highlighted the storm shelters in other parts of Oklahoma. Cost is around 150,000 which is mostly funded by FEMA (government) grants. That shelter can house 150-200 people and has withstood an ef-3 storm so far.

      It’s so effective that people from neighboring towns know to head to this shelter in an emergency.

      We can hope that when the rebuild the schools, and they will, that they’ll realize how wise an investment in shelter rooms for schools is.

    • chickadee

      I was thinking about the logistics of building a community or neighborhood shelter, similar to the public bomb shelters in London during WWII….

    • Justme

      Because it’s incredibly expensive to blast through the ground and bedrock we have down here in order to make underground shelters.

  • henryk

    Is The Containers Thar are stacked up From Shipping Strong Enough For Shelters? We Have Those In Surplus In Coastal States

    • http://twitter.com/TwAlexLee Alex Lee

      Shipping containers would be strong enough (provided no other tornadoes rip through the area) but they are not insulated or ventilated, have no windows, or hookups for utilities (electrical or plumbing), and don’t look very appealing.

      For families who just lost everything, I believe disaster relief provides something better for temporary housing. Makes it feel more like home. (Images provided just for example)

    • chickadee

      I think henryk was referring to the use of shipping containers as underground shelters. I have heard of people doing this, but again, there’s the problem of being able to dig far enough down to make it worthwhile.

    • Alex Lee

      Agree. Putting it below-ground would also expose it to pressure, insects, molds, and moisture. You’d have to make sure the entrance/exits wouldn’t get buried underneath a ton of rubble after the tornado hit.

      You could anchor it above-ground, but it would still need to be reinforced, else the winds would just pry it apart like a pull-top can.

      Still like the concept of reuse for surplus things, though.

    • chickadee

      Okay, I am mildly claustrophobic and now my palms are sweating because of your first paragraph. Let’s just use an old school bus…

      http://www.americanownews.com/story/18374597/school-bus-converted-into-underground-storm-shelter

  • http://www.facebook.com/sean.phillips.9081 Sean Phillips

    i heard just a few hours ago, the death toll estimate is down to twenty something, total. I know even one is too many, but it is most definitely looking less awful than it could have been, especially as it brings out all the good things you just wrote about.

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  • once upon a time

    Anonymous is exactly what you are looking for – unless you’re a woman or child who gets on their bad side, and in that case they’ll publish all your personal information online and cyber bully the crap out of you. Much like Batman or Spiderman.