Pauls Valley Democrat
Historical record will forever mark May 20 as one of the somber moments for the residents of Moore, Oklahoma, but for a handful of emergency officials in the Pauls Valley area, conditions were right for a similar tragedy to unfold here as well.
Right there in the mix of severe weather a little less than 50 miles south was Garvin County Emergency Management Director Bud Ramming, who helped coordinate volunteers made up of fire departments and police officers from the area.
He saw first-hand as tornadic conditions came a little too close to town for comfort.
As indicated by those in storm spotting roles, he felt it was a miracle that the wall cloud rotating overhead resulted in nothing more than sounding the warning sirens and text alerts from those with the Emergency 911 service.
“We were very fortunate because all the potential was there,” said Ramming. “I guess we dodged a bullet as far as tornadoes were concerned.”
The first thing Ramming’s crew did was make sure all the schools were notified, which actually began well before the siren when conditions started flaring up that morning
He wanted to make sure they could make the best decisions, which were heeded as many schools arranged for kids to be picked up earlier in the afternoon.
Ramming said it’s a humbling experience when one also takes into consideration reports from his spotters that funnel clouds had been seen dipping in and out of clouds across the county. After scanning areas where there may have some potential for damage, he is further amazed that none has been reported other than some large hail and welcomed heavy rains.
“I couldn’t be everywhere at once and they were my eyes and ears,” said Ramming. “They helped me Monday.”
It didn’t take too long before more volunteers started contacting Ramming to see if they could be of any help in Moore be it cleanup or in search/rescue efforts.
Yet, while officials including the sheriff’s department are on a reserve list, the initial response has been strong enough to where they have not had to make a trip, but will if needed later on.
“At the moment they aren’t needing us, we did offer to lend assistance when they needed us,” said Ramming. “I’ve actually been flooded with calls from people wanting to help.”
However, Ramming in many ways was saved by being where he was during the storms and noted that it was only a little over eight years ago before his job here when he was living in the path of the devastation in a Moore neighborhood.
It leaves plenty of time for reflection since the very house he lived in at the time was one of many blown away by the F5 tornado.
“We have a lot to be thankful for out here,” said Ramming. “We’re very fortunate we didn’t get something similar to what Moore got… we could have been another Moore.”