Seventeen-year-old Danny Moody emerged from a basement in South Moore, Okla., on Monday to a mess of wet debris. At his distance, three blocks from the tornado’s path, most of the buildings still stood. But there were hints of devastation, flung to the ground from miles away: roofing shingles, home insulation, splintered beams of wood.
And, on the windshield of Moody’s car, a few pages of the Old Testament Book of Psalms -- damp and dirt-stained, but otherwise undamaged.
For some people, those pages have become a defining image of Monday’s tornado and its heart-rending aftermath. A photo of the pages, which Moody posted to Twitter, has been shared almost 2,500 times. According to Topsy, a Twitter analytics tool, the photo has been seen by nearly 100,000 people.
Moody, who lives a mile from the tornado path, says he understands the fascination.
“This is such a desperate situation,” he said. “The area is just devastated. And this provides a lot of hope, I think -- it’s a very powerful message.”
Where exactly that message came from, Moody may never know. According to The National Weather Service, tornado winds can carry lightweight objects tens of thousands of feet into the air and hurl them up to 100 miles or more from where they originated. Local media in Tulsa, Okla., more than 80 miles from Moore, have already reported checks, photographs, Valentine’s Day cards and school awards certificates falling from the sky.
Moody is just glad he and his family are safe. Five blocks away from the basement at his father’s workplace where he and his father hid during the storm, houses collapsed and a man wandered the street, his face bloodied. Moody’s mother, who teaches at a local elementary school, also escaped the tornado’s path.
Moody went from his father’s workplace to meet his mother at the school. It then took four hours, from 8 p.m. to midnight, to drive the five miles from the school to their house. Every light was dark along the way.
Now Moody plans to keep the pages with him -- they’re still in his truck. For him, too, they have become a powerful symbol of hope in a storm.
“This landed on my truck,” reads his tweet about the pages. “In the midst of a chaotic tornado, my God still delivers.”