What good could possibly come from a massive tornado pounding an elementary school?
The horror was made worse because we could watch it live on television Monday afternoon. News footage from a helicopter showed a wide, gray blob slowly swirling over a dense suburb of Oklahoma City.
Associated Press photographer Sue Ogrocki took the pictures that were on our front page Tuesday. She wrote what it was like on the ground in Moore, Okla., as soon as the wind subsided.
"By the time I reached Moore, all I could see was destruction," Ogrocki wrote. "I walked toward a group of people standing by a heaping mound of rubble too big to be a home. A woman told me it was a school."
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She said the scene was calm and orderly as she photographed about a dozen children being pulled from the rubble.
"I focused my lens on each one of them. Some looked dazed. Some cried. Others seemed terrified. But they were alive."
In the Lowcountry, we can almost identify. We sit in harm's way each year during a long hurricane season. We have days to anguish over the unsteady movements of storms rumbling across the Atlantic. Will they, or will they not, tear our lives apart?
Those of us who were here when Hurricane Hugo struck the Lowcountry in 1989 have a better feel for what can happen.
But out West, heroic school teachers had only minutes to prepare their little charges for the tornado's strike.
Don't even try to make sense of it.
But Tuesday morning, amid all the raw footage and raw emotions, an inspiring response came from someone I know -- many miles from the hurt in Oklahoma.
Her reaction is no doubt colored by her own stare-down with mortality. This mother of a young woman who recently married into our family is fighting an aggressive form of breast cancer.
Maybe what she wrote on her Facebook page can help:
"In honor of the victims of yesterday's devastating tornadoes, I would love to see the rest of us recognize our blessings.
"Be an encouragement to one another and build each other up.
"Push our human reset buttons and live in peace with one another.
"It's possible to change the attitudes and judgments of this world one person at a time. We need to try to refrain from stealing the joy from others by forcing our views and opinions down other people's throats. If you don't like something, instead of pointing out what other people aren't doing right, do the right thing yourself.
"No matter how bad you think you have it, someone always has it worse."