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A Lesson from Oklahoma: Wisdom Saves Lives

Moore, Oklahoma tornado devastation

By now, you may have heard of Nancy Davis.  Nancy lives in Moore, Oklahoma and yes, her house was destroyed by the recent tornado that devastated several Oklahoma communities. Like many, she is reeling from the aftermath and will, no doubt, for some time.

What makes Nancy unique is that she is 94-years old and she lost her home not once, but twice.  She lost her home on May 3, 1999, the last time an EF5 tornado hit Moore - the strongest tornado on record. (She was recently highlighted in a CBS news report.)

Then why is she smiling?

I'm told the odds of being hit by two class EF5 tornadoes in a lifetime is somewhere around one trillion to one (give or take a few million).  Even if you are not paranoid, you may begin to wonder.

And she's smiling?

Yes, she will be displaced from her home again, sift through the rubble to find those precious items that remain - again, and rebuild her house, her home, her life.  "What am I going to do?" she said. "Am I going to go in a rest home? I don't need to rest."

And yet she smiles.

In the aftermath, Nancy built an underground shelter as a result of the first storm.  She learned from experience that it could save her life.  And it did.

Related: Miracle in Oklahoma: Barbara Garcia Reunites with Dog on Live TV

But her wisdom did more than that.  It helped save the lives of others - five others: a neighbor and his wife, a pregnant woman (her unborn child) and a two-year old.

In spite of the loss of her home, Nancy smiled, and said "God was with us."  Whether you have faith or not, Nancy's wisdom, strength and sense of purpose is inspiring - and it also saved a few lives that day.

Some people were not as fortunate as Nancy or those that took refuge in her shelter.  Many found themselves without a place to go that would protect them, including those in an elementary school in the storm's path.  And lives were lost.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them and the many families and individuals (like Nancy) that have lost everything they have.

And our support follows as well.

AARP Foundation established the AARP Foundation Oklahoma Tornado Relief Fund to support victims affected by the recent "monster" tornadoes in Oklahoma.

AARP, its staff and members are committed to helping those in need. To bolster support, AARP and AARP Foundation will match dollar-for-dollar contributions up to $250,000, assuring up to $500,000 in aid once the match is met through contributions.  The Foundation will give funds to organizations providing relief and recovery support to disaster victims.

The full impact of the historic twister in Moore is still to be determined.  They say, damage estimates may exceed nearly two billion dollars as homes, businesses and schools were completely destroyed.  So, aid will be needed, and I encourage you to give generously.

Though many will remember the devastating effects of these storms for some time, I, for one, will remember a very special 94-year old, the lives she saved, and her amazing smile.

 Photo credit: US Air Force via flickr.


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