Florence Rogers, Survivor of Oklahoma City Bombing
Florence Rogers was CEO of the Federal Employees Credit Union in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. She was in the building when a bomb exploded at 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995.
We always had people. We didn’t open until 9 o’clock and we were open 'til 5 o’clock every day. The credit union was a place where everybody could go in there. Or the snack bar, the credit union and the snack bar. We were constantly inundated with people just coming in to visit, or draw out a little money for their lunch, or apply for a loan, so everybody—everybody—visited the credit union.
I got there as early as I could that morning; I had my cruise pictures from my vacation the week before. I had them all put in there and I was going to share all those with these gals when we met that morning. So we didn’t get started on this meeting until about 8:20 that morning. I would turn around and look at my computer screen, at the next item that we were to discuss. I’d rear back in my chair and let them chat about who’s going to copy this, and who’s going to do this. Get this ready for the banking department so they could hurry with their audit.
I had just turned around in my chair and kind of reared back and was getting ready to discuss the next item that I had mentioned when the bomb went off. It had to be longer but it felt like seconds. All the girls that were in the office with me disappeared. I thought they had ran out and left me alone. I started hollering, “Where are you guys? Where are you guys?”
Then, realization set in somewhat, and I realized that I don’t know where they are. They are gone. Eventually I found out, that when the bomb went up and everything started coming down, that the seven floors above us had took them down into what was eventually known as the pit.
There was just an eerie silence that fell over that whole scene. The papers were still fluttering. When the glass and stuff stopped, you know, there was glass found on buildings blocks away, everywhere. But this eerie silence was something.
I had been thrown on the floor and packed into my spot with stuff packed around me. I found out later that there was only 18 inches of exterior wall that did not break away, which kind of helped me there. My desk was sitting at an angle ready to topple over into this hole that the bomb had made where all my employees had landed
My first thought was it probably had to be a gas explosion of some kind. And then later on they started saying bomb. And that was pretty shocking. I’ve been asked this by quite a few people, “what was your first thought when you saw this stuff going up in the air, the whole building blowing up before you?” My answer to that was I always hated movies where they blow up perfectly good buildings and bridges, there is so much now of that now in movies and I don’t like that, never did. My first thought literally was “Oh my gosh, this is like a bad movie! I got to get up and get out of here.”
I’m asked a lot, were you angry? Did you get mad? And my answer has always been I did not let myself get angry because that would have only hurt Florence if I got angry.
It caused a lot of changes in my life. I retired early, earlier than I had anticipated. It’s never gone away. Those 18 that I lost had worked for me 128 years total tenure. They were like my daughters, some of them. Some of them had worked for me decades. And it hurts to see their families and to know that here I am having great grand babies and those families won’t ever have that opportunity. It did change my life a lot.
I just say that the man upstairs wasn’t through with me yet. And so here it has been 20 years and at the time of the bombing I was 59 years old so you do your own math.
It let me live long enough to see my hair turn gray and I have three great-grandbabies and do some things other than just my job.
You never know when you aren’t going to come home from an ordinary day of work. I usually close my remarks when I’m giving my story to people that my advice is don’t ever miss an opportunity to tell those that you love that you love them because you don't ever know when you might not come home from that ordinary day.
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