OKLAHOMA CITY -- Inspiration, much like severe weather, can strike anywhere. It's what you do with that inspiration that counts.
Kevin Hackett, a program specialist with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service's Northwest District, knows that well.
Back in October of 1998, Hackett attended a national 4-H meeting in North Carolina.
"Went to a workshop that talked about dealing with disasters," Hackett said. "They had a publication there 'After the Tornado.'"
The book was a coloring book for kids, meant to help them deal with the effects of a tornado on their lives and homes.
Hackett had no idea that he would put the book into service here in Oklahoma just a few months later.
On May 3rd, 1999, Oklahoma experienced some of the most violent and damaging weather in its history. Thousands of homes and businesses were either damaged or destroyed, and almost forty people lost their lives.
Shortly after, as he was mobilizing all of the county extension agents, Hackett remembered the coloring book.
"It came back to mind, and I pulled it out of my file and worked on it a little bit to adapt it to Oklahoma," Hackett said. "Then I got permission to utilize it here for educational purposes in Oklahoma."
The book was made widely available to Oklahoma counties over the next few months. Hackett conservatively estimates it in the hundreds.
"We provided it pretty extensively in 1999 to counties that had major tornado damage," Hackett said.
He would prefer not to have to use it at all, but Hackett says he always keeps the book ready to be distributed in case another violent storm affects the lives of children.
"When a disaster happens, we're trying to fix things, or do things to get our house back in order," said Hackett. "We don't realize what may be going on in a child's mind."
The coloring book, which gives kid-friendly safety tips on tornados, including the safest places to ride one out, and what to expect after the storm has passed, is available at any county extension office.
You can also print out your own copy of "After the Tornado" by visiting http://oces.okstate.edu/nwdistrict/uploaded_files/4-h/events/AfterTheTornado.pdf .
7401 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
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