Kansas Tornado and the Wizard of Oz


My good friend Aaron Stanton called me the other day with an incredible story about the recent tornadoes in Kansas.  I asked him to tell his story and share these amazing photos, so here it is!

The tornado that hit the KSU campus last week in Manhattan, Kansas was particularly disturbing for me.  My parents live in Manhattan, where they both work at KSU and live about two blocks from the campus.  The night the tornado touched down, I was treated to a running update via text message as they huddled in the basement.

“Power’s out.  We’re ok.  Have water, food, blankets.  Don’t worry.”

They were sending these “we’re in the dark, don’t worry” messages while their neighbor’s house was being picked apart and stripped to its foundations a few houses down, something my parents neglected to mention until the next morning.  It’s one of those times when you realize you can’t trust your parents when they send you a text message that contains both the words, “tornado” and “don’t worry” at the same time.

The next day, CNN had iReports of people showing pictures of smashed cars.  The windows in my father’s office had been blown open, and the storm had stripped everything from the walls, taken down the ceiling (literally), and flipped his iMac off his desk and onto the floor, screen first.  That was peripheral damage – the tornado had actually passed over the building next door.

But when all was said and done, the storm ended with one final thumbs up from a higher power, what I like to think of as a sort of, “It’s all good,” gesture from the big fellow upstairs.  During the clean up of debris that was littering the city, one of my father’s students named Sam Marin walked out her front door and found a single sheet of paper resting neatly on her front yard – a torn out, beaten up, weathered page from The Wizard of Oz.  In fact, it’s the scene where the Wizard of Oz reveals himself, and has to live up to his promises of giving everyone brains, hearts, and homes.  Better than videos of flipped cars, this is the image that should have been on CNN the morning after the Kansas tornado:

Page from the Wizard of Oz

Where the rest of the book is, or who it belonged to, we may never know.  But I think the irony is just excellent. :)

More first-hand shots of the wreckage:

The office after the tornado

Damaged hallway at KSU

Building next door

Cleaning up after the Tornado