Something a bit different today. It just didn’t feel right to post a new article on the regular topics when all the news stations are only talking about the devastation and loss of life from a mile-wide tornado that flattened the suburb of Moore, just south of Oklahoma City around 3pm, yesterday. The latest death toll as reported by Bloomberg news correspondents Michael B. Marois, Mike Lee and Brian K. Sullivan, were at least 91, of which 20 were children. Searching continues today, in the hopes of finding more survivors.
“The tornado was at least an EF-4 storm,” said Ryan Barnes, a weather service meteorologist in Norman, Oklahoma. An EF-4 is one level below the most powerful ranking of EF-5 and has wind gusts of 166 to 200 miles per hour. EF-4 tornados make up approximately 1% of the US tornados reported annually. Ironically, the path of yesterday’s tornado was almost the same path hit on May 3, 1999 when Seventy-four tornadoes touched down across Oklahoma and Kansas, in less than 21 hours. When the winds died down, 46 died, 800 were hurt and property damage totaled $1.5 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla. It will be sometime before the extent of lost life and property damage will be reported from yesterday’s devastation.
“They are still in the process of picking through the rubble to try to find survivors,” Jerry Lojka, a spokesman for Oklahoma Emergency Management, said in an interview. “We know it was on the ground for 40 minutes. It traveled across the entire city of Moore.” See http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-05-20/tornado-strikes-south-oklahoma-city-devastating-schools-homes for the full story.
The tornado cut a swath of devastation 20 miles long that ran through Moore, a city of about 55,000, destroying Plaza Towers Elementary School, where more than 75 students were in the school, and as many as 30 may have been rescued, KFOR-TV reported. Just before 7 p.m. local time, authorities at the school told reporters that there didn’t appear to be any more survivors, as reported by KFOR-TV. A second school, Briarwood Elementary, only a mile and a half from Plaza Towers, was also heavily damaged.
“There are entire blocks that are wiped clean to the foundations,” Lojka said. “It went through residential areas, business areas. We know a hospital is heavily damaged, two elementary schools are heavily damaged.”
Obviously, this is all just what is known and reported as of this morning, over the coming days, the extent of the devastation will be updated as this story line will undoubtedly be the hot topic at least the rest of this week. Here are the news sites that we recommend for keeping up with the events:
Additionally, many people around the world are asking the obvious question today, how can we help? This article link from USA Today was the best one stop list I could find this morning to share what’s being done by the Red Cross and Salvation Army right now and there are also links, numbers, etc. for your donations to help the efforts for food, water, shelter to continue and provide for everyone in need. You can also click on the image to the right and be directed to the Red Cross’s Donation site immediately. If everyone reading this gives one small donation, we can make a big difference.
~~~~~~~~Debra L Hartmann
- 1.6km-wide tornado ‘dead hit’ (smh.com.au)
- Massive Tornado Hits Oklahoma (voanews.com)
- Oklahoma tornado death toll expected to climb as search efforts continue (newsday.com)
- The Evening Post: Moore Oklahoma Tornado and Ways To Help (geekalabama.com)
- Monster tornado kills 51 people, including school children, in Oklahoma (nj.com)
- Oklahoma Devastation, Rescue in Pictures (newser.com)
- Reporter’s notebook: Tornado wallops Oklahoma town (usatoday.com)
- Violent tornadoes tear through central Oklahoma (640whlo.com)
- Violent tornadoes tear through central Oklahoma (politics.kfyi.com)
- Deadly Oklahoma tornado: Frantic search for survivors (nj.com)