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Why Do People Live In Twister-Prone Oklahoma?

Tammy Wade (left) is hugged by Dana Givens in what is left of her home in El Reno, Okla., on Sunday, after it was destroyed by a tornado.
Joe Raedle
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Tammy Wade (left) is hugged by Dana Givens in what is left of her home in El Reno, Okla., on Sunday, after it was destroyed by a tornado.

In covering the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma, we've been asking a lot of questions about safety and preparedness. On Saturday, a meteorologist told NPR's Wade Goodwyn that "there is no universal, one-size-fits-all guidance or safety rules for tornadoes."

Some of the online commenters on that story had advice of their own, such as: "Don't live in Oklahoma."

But Sooner State residents are talking back.

In a post for the conservative website Breitbart.com, editor Meredith Dake explained why she lives in Oklahoma:

"As devastating as the destruction was, seeing dozens of my fellow Oklahomans in plain clothes standing on top of debris digging out perfect strangers gave good feelings a chance to compete with the understandably bad ones.

"That's why Oklahomans live here (outside of the awesome cost of living): We pull together."

Dake describes the rush of selfless volunteers and generous donors, ending with this thought:

"In the midst of unthinkable devastation and loss, after we turn to our God in prayer, we can turn to our neighbors and think, 'You're doin' fine, Oklahoma.' "

BuzzFeed posted a list of the "45 Best Things About Living In Oklahoma," including: food, sports and its proclivity toward helping the little guys.

In the NPR.org comments, Aleta Boddy, who lives in Tulsa, says: "Is a tornado a good enough reason for me to abandon this home that I've come to love? Certainly not. Fear of disaster should inform good decisions, certainly, but it shouldn't control your life until you have nothing left but fear."

Other commenters note that disaster can strike anywhere. Moobru points to a New York Times interactive from 2011 that maps the risk of natural disaster nationwide. (Lowest risk was in Corvallis, Ore., and the highest risk was in Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas.) Of course, the entire discussion — serious or not — presumes that picking up stakes and moving away is even possible.

Keep the (constructive) comments coming: Why do you live where you live?

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A sign proclaiming "Hope Still Lives Here" is posted on the side of a damaged home in Moore, Okla.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
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Getty Images
A sign proclaiming "Hope Still Lives Here" is posted on the side of a damaged home in Moore, Okla.

Dana Farrington is a digital editor coordinating online coverage on the Washington Desk — from daily stories to visual feature projects to the weekly newsletter. She has been with the NPR Politics team since President Trump's inauguration. Before that, she was among NPR's first engagement editors, managing the homepage for NPR.org and the main social accounts. Dana has also worked as a weekend web producer and editor, and has written on a wide range of topics for NPR, including tech and women's health.
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