Oklahoma Begins Recovery from Deadly Tornado [VIDEO]
Rescue workers are double checking storm shelters and damaged property to check for survivors of the tornado that may be trapped as Moore, Oklahoma begins its recovery from yesterday’s 200 MPH tornado.
At an afternoon press conference Fire Chief Gary Bird said fresh teams would search the whole community at least two more times to ensure that no survivors — or any of the dead — were overlooked. Crews painted an ‘X’ on each structure to note it had been checked “That is to confirm we have done our due diligence for this city, for our citizens,” Bird said.
Bird is “98% sure there are no more survivors but will stick with his plan to be sure.
“As long as we are here … we are going to hold out hope that we will find survivors,” added Trooper Betsy Randolph, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R) toured the damage from the air and described what she saw as “hard to look at.” Many of the destroyed homes, she said, were reduced to “sticks and bricks.”
The death toll stands at 24 confirmed deaths from the tornado that tore up Moore, Oklahoma with 237 people injured following yesterday’s tornado that ripped through with winds of 200 mph. State medical examiner spokeswoman Amy Elliot says she believes some victims were counted twice in the early chaos of the storm. Authorities said initially that as many as 51 people were dead. Ellitot expects the number of dead to rise today.
She says 9 victims so far are children, seven of which were found at the Plaza Tower Elementary School. All the victims were from the Moore area from either businesses, homes or schools. Their names are not being released at this time.
Many of the children drowned at the Plaza Tower school when the roof collapsed and water pipes broke according to the BBC.
Tapping The State “Rainy Day” Fund
Fallin says the state has set up a website for residents to get information on services available to help with rebuilding at ok.gov/okstrong/. The state is also working on tapping the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” to assist local governments fund services and recovery according to CNN.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Corbett expects the Draper Water Treatment Plant to have electricity soon and normal water pressure to return.
Three high schools in the Moore school district say they will still hold graduation ceremonies in Oklahoma City.
Flags are at half-staff over the Capital building in Washington in honor of the victims.
More than 120 people have been treated at hospitals, including about 50 children. KFOR reports that 101 people were found alive in the rubble overnight.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the state of Oklahoma to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and tornadoes beginning May 18, 2013 and continuing.
Many parents seeking their children gathered at a suburban church, listening intently as someone with a bullhorn called out the names of children who were being dropped off. For many families, the ordeal ended in tears of joy. Others were left to wait in the darkness, hoping for good news while fearing the worst.
The National Weather Service issued an initial finding that the tornado was an EF-5 on the enhanced Fujita scale, the second most powerful type of twister. It estimated that the twister was at least half a mile wide. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., forecast more stormy weather Tuesday in parts of Texas, NWS spokesman Rick Smith added that many structures were “wiped clean to the foundation.
A map provided by the National Weather Service showed that the storm began west of Newcastle and crossed the Canadian River into Oklahoma City’s rural far southwestern side about 3 p.m. When it reached Moore, the twister cut a path through the center of town before lifting back into the sky at Lake Stanley Draper.
Crews continued their desperate search-and-rescue effort throughout the night at Plaza Towers Elementary, where the storm had ripped off the school’s roof, knocked down walls and turned the playground into a mass of twisted plastic and metal as students and teachers huddled in hallways and bathrooms.
Children from the school were among the dead, but several students were pulled out alive earlier Monday from under a collapsed wall and other heaps of mangled debris. Rescue workers passed the survivors down a human chain of parents and neighborhood volunteers. Parents carried children in their arms to a triage center in the parking lot. Some of the students looked dazed while others appeared terrified.
One woman experienced a miracle of sorts as she talked to KWTV TV about her missing dog. As she spoke to a reporter, a camera man noticed the dog crawling out of the rubble of her home. “Well I thought God just answered one prayer to let me be OK, but he answered both of them, because this was my second prayer,” the woman cried as she hugged her pet.
The Associated Press contributed to this story