Oklahoma Tornado Story
MOORE, Okla. May 23, 2013 (AP)
By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI and SEAN MURPHY
MOORE, Okla. (AP) — The tornado that struck an Oklahoma City suburb this week may have created $2 billion or more in damage as it tore through as many as 13,000 homes, multiple schools and a hospital, officials said Wednesday as they gave the first detailed account of the devastation.
Also Wednesday, authorities released the identities of the 24 people, including 10 children, who perished. While anguish over the deaths was palpable as residents began picking up their shattered neighborhoods, many remained stunned that the twister didn't take a higher human toll during its 17 miles and 40 minutes on the ground.
The physical destruction was staggering.
"The tornado that we're talking about is the 1 or 2 percent tornado," Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood said of the twister, which measured a top-of-the-scale EF5 with winds of at least 200 mph. "This is the anomaly that flattens everything to the ground."
As response teams transitioned into cleanup and recovery, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, who sent police and fire crews from his city to assist the effort, said an early assessment estimated damage costs at between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.
The Oklahoma Insurance Department, meanwhile, said visual assessments of the extensive damage zone suggest the cost could be greater than the $2 billion from the 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., and killed nearly seven times as many people.
There was little more than 10 minutes warning that a tornado was on the ground Monday and headed for Moore, but many in the area are accustomed to severe storms. The community of 56,000 people has been hit by four tornados since 1998, and residents already were on alert after weekend storms and days of warnings. Because the tornado hit in the afternoon, many others were away from the neighborhoods and out of harm's way at work.
Looking over the broken brick, smashed wood and scattered appliances that is all that remains of the home where Dawn Duffy-Relf's aunt lived with her two daughters, Duffy-Relf and her husband marveled at the devastation — and the survival rate.
Duffy-Relf credited central Oklahoma residents' instincts and habits: They watch the weather reports, they look at the sky, they know what they can and can't outrun.
"We know where we live," she said as she tried to salvage as much from the home as possible before her aunt returned from a vacation to Mexico.
Her husband, Paul Duffy-Relf, also noted the rise of social media and cellphone use since the last massive storm smashed the town more than a decade ago. He said people posted on Facebook and Twitter ahead of Monday's storm, telling others where the tornado was and when to flee. And some never left their cellphones, staying on the line with loved ones as long as they could, and working to quickly reconnect with those who needed help afterward.
"People are still looking for their wallets, but they have their cellphones," he said.
Harold Brooks, research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., said long-range forecasting models also have dramatically improved and are able to provide insight even a week before a storm strikes.
Brooks said people in the storm's direct path had time to pick out their safe place — even if it was their home's bathtub — when there was first word of a massive tornado bearing down on them.
"If you take appropriate action, you go to your safe place, you can dramatically increase the probability you'll survive," he said.
To Brooks, the Joplin tornado was the oddity in terms of lives lost. That tornado struck on a Sunday evening two years ago this week.
"It's a number that I really don't understand what led to that," he said. "It could be the timing, 5:30 on a Sunday night, or bad luck. That was the outlier."
While estimating that between 12,000 and 13,000 homes were affected by Monday's tornado, emergency officials said they were unable to estimate the number of people left homeless, in part because many had been taken in by relatives and only a couple dozen stayed overnight at Red Cross shelters.
President Barack Obama plans to view the destruction firsthand Sunday. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, meanwhile, visited Wednesday and again pledged the federal government's ongoing support. She urged people to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to learn about aid for which they may qualify.
"We know that people are really hurting," she said. "There's a lot of recovery yet to do. ... We will be here to stay until this recovery is complete. You have our commitment on that."
Associated Press writers Tim Talley in Moore, Ken A. Miller in Oklahoma City and Justin Juozapavicius in Tulsa contributed to this report.
Oklahoma tornado: Relief center offers supplies and comfort
Volunteers unload relief supplies at the First Baptist Church of Moore, Okla. (Brett Deering / AFP/Getty Images / May 23, 2013)
MOORE, Okla. -- The First Baptist Church of Moore has experienced hard times before. In 1999, it was next door to the disaster zone after what became known as the May 3 tornado.
As it did then, the church has become a sprawling relief hub.
Inside the enormous red-brick building, which FEMA designated a disaster recovery center, volunteers and donors have amassed almost anything a person could need: rows and rows of donated shoes; tables stacked with children's books and toys; piles of food tins, water bottles and clothing. The church even has its own medical table and shopping carts for survivors with essentials such as toiletries, diapers and food so they can take what they need.
"It came in in droves," Joey Dean, a student pastor at the church, said of the donations. "You have no idea."
A comfort dog wandered the halls Thursday as volunteers bustled around, collecting and organizing supplies as they were dropped off.
As many as 40 survivors stayed at the church on the first night, using air mattresses and cots that were, like much of everything here, speedily donated after Monday's tornado. The number has dwindled as Moore's newly homeless arrange to stay with family and friends or settle in hotels.
The problem for many who took refuge at the church, Dean said, has been making arrangements beyond the immediate future. "Because so many people got displaced, you'll get a number [for temporary housing] and it'll fill up quickly."
Jerry Cavenee, 62, arrived to pick up food and supplies for his two sons, who suffered a "100% loss" when the twister hit their home behind the Warren Movie Theater. They were among the 2,200 Oklahomans that Gov. Mary Fallin said had registered for aid from FEMA, an experience that Cavenee described as positive.
Much of the early recovery, however, has been a struggle.
"When you don't have a roof, and you get one rain, you're done," Cavenee said. "The biggest problems are the rubberneckers. We're trying to get in there, and there are long lines to get in" on the roads.
On Wednesday, the three men left nearby Bridge Creek at 9 a.m. and arrived at their home six hours later -- and then security officials wouldn't allow them to bring in their trailer.
"It took a long time to move that stuff. Meanwhile, the rain's coming," Cavenee said.
Residents filed for more than 4,000 insurance claims alone Wednesday, according to Robert P. Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute. Millions of dollars have poured into the community already from insurance adjusters examining homes, he said, and residents getting checks from large insurance buses with portable printers inside.
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak said 1,500 agents had been cleared to work on the disaster recovery, and residents had already filed 6,700 claims. Doak said he planned to ask for retired insurance brokers from out of state to help with the insurance effort; adjusters are allowed 90-day emergency permits to work on the disaster.
"My plane was full of adjusters; my hotel was full of adjusters," said Hartwig, who flew in from Chicago.
Michael Copeland, director of the Oklahoma Insurance Department's anti-fraud unit, kept watch over the parking lot where the insurance agents were working. The disaster hit close to home for him, literally: He lives in Moore, just outside the disaster zone.
"We're going to have to have people come from the outside because we can't rebuild on our own," Copeland said of the insurance army.
The church will host at least three funerals in the coming days -- one Friday and two Saturday, Dean said. The church also will have its usual Sunday services and Bible studies.
"The goal is to get back to normal as soon as possible, with the reality that there's still going to be stuff in our parking lot," Dean said.
New Satellite Images Show Oklahoma Tornado's Trail Of Destruction
This Monday a historic tornado hit Oklahoma City, wrecking havoc on the suburb of Moore and resulting in the death of 24 people.
Photos from the ground level are staggering, but it takes photos from above to see the full scale of the damage. The Google Crisis Map for the disaster uses satellite imagery from Digital Globe taken May 22 to show just how bad it was..
This image shows the path of the tornado. The little icons are damage, which is graded from least severe (blue, green), medium severe (yellow), to more severe (red, purple).
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/oklahoma-tornado-satellite-images-show-path-2013-5#ixzz2UBSQqPOQ
HOW TO HELP....
How to help tornado victims
Several nonprofits are collecting donations for tornado victims. Many indicated that financial donations are preferred over supplies.
In addition, the Salvation Army reported Thursday that it had obtained a 100,000-square-foot warehouse space to collect and sort items like food and water and hygiene products to distribute to people in Moore. As the focus in Moore moves from search and rescue to clean up, The Salvation Army will be providing assistance – food, hydration and spiritual counseling – as needed to everyone involved.
With much of the city still blocked by debris, Salvation Army canteens, or mobile kitchens, are roving through the impacted area to ensure food and hydration is provided to everyone. Monetary donations are the most critical need for many organizations as supplies and personnel are sent to the affected areas.
For those still collecting items, Feed the Children has established nine locations in Oklahoma City to accept donations that will aid victims of the Moore tornadoes. They are: Feed The Children McCormick Distribution Center, 29 N McCormick; First Baptist Church, 1201 N Robinson; KOCO-TV, 1300 E Britton Rd.; Faith Tabernacle Church, Interstate 40 and Portland; TLC Garden Center, 105 W Memorial Rd., Continental Resources, 20 N Broadway; Bob Moore Parking Lot, 412 W Reno; Thermal Windows, 6405 NW 23, Bethany; and Cornerstone Church, 9900 SE 15, Midwest City.
Items that will be accepted at these locations are diapers, canned goods, nonperishable food and snack items, water and sports drinks. Cash donations are also welcome, especially since Feed the Children's agreements with retailers allow the group to buy items for less cost than the general public, said spokesman Erin Engelke.
Cash donations to help with Feed the Children’s relief efforts can also be made by phone at (800) 627-4556, online at www.feedthechildren.org/disaster, or by texting “DISASTER” to 80888.
Many organizations are collecting supplies to aid with relief and recovery from the tornado, and they are providing locations for people to drop off their items. Top needs are bottled water, Gatorade-type sports drinks, work gloves, individually wrapped snacks, but each group lists slightly different things.
In addition to Feed the Children, mentioned above, here are the sites along with dropoff times and locations:
Science Museum Oklahoma, 2100 NE 52, is serving as a drop-off point for relief donations, including bottled water, Gatorade-type sports drinks, diapers, baby wipes, baby formula and canned foods at the museum box office during operating hours. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
In addition, residents of Shawnee and Moore who were displaced by the tornadoes will be given free museum admission through Friday. For more information, call 602-6664 or www.sciencemuseumok.org.
The Tuttle FFA is having a donation drive from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Old Williams Parking Lot on Main Street. People are asked to bring bottled water, Gatorade, diapers, work gloves, baby wipes, individually wrapped snacks, baby formula, hand towels and nonperishable items.
Crossings Community Church, 2208 W Hefner, is now a donation site for bottled water and energy/sports drinks; nonperishable items, including protein and granola bars, diapers and work gloves. Drop off items between 7:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, financial donations can be made online at crossingsokc.org/giving. Sign in or create an account, select “missions” and then select “disaster relief fund” to send your donation directly to tornado relief.
Crossings is also working with the the international humanitarian relief organization Convoy of Hope, which has sent a team to Moore with supplies from its World Distribution Center in Springfield, Mo., and is accepting additional items at Crossings’ south Oklahoma City location at 8900 S. Shields Blvd. Drop off items from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. To make a contribution to Convoy of Hope, go online to www.convoyofhope.org. Donate $10 via cellphone by texting the word CONVOY to 50555.
Oklahoma State University's Parking and Transit Services will be accepting donations from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday in the parking lot at the intersection of Hall of Fame and Washington in Stillwater. Water, nonperishable food items, diapers, toiletries, snack foods, work gloves, Gatorade, sunscreen, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, ibuprofen, shovels, rakes and buckets are needed. No clothing. All items will be donated to the American Red Cross. For more information, call (405) 744-6260.
The Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre will solicit donations for disaster relief during its run of “Greater Tuna,” scheduled Friday through June 16 at the Civic Center Music Hall's Freede Little Theatre, 201 N Walker. For more information, call 848-3761.
Toy Base 10, 4028 NW 10, and Vintage Stock, 7407 N May, are collecting toys for those displaced by the Moore tornado. Toy Base 10 is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Vintage Stock is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 7 p.m. Sundays.
Quail Springs Baptist Church, 14613 N May, is requesting donations of water, Gatorade, wipes, individually wrapped snacks, hand sanitizer, diapers, baby formula, hand towels, work gloves and sunscreen. Items can be dropped off on the north side of the building. Checks can be made payable to QSBC Storm Relief. For more information, call 755-9240. The Oklahoma City Ballet, 7421 N Classen, is accepting donations of baby wipes, paper towels, gallons of water, individually wrapped snack and food items and work gloves. Drop-off hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Donations will also be accepted from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Oklahoma City University, 2501 N Blackwelder. For more information, call 848-8637.
Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity will have a trailer at Lowes, 2555 Hemphill Dr., in Norman, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday to take in donations of supplies for the tornado victims. They are asking for supplies that include trailer water, food, formula, hygiene items, etc. For more information please contact Linda at Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity at 360-7868.
The TLC Garden Center at 13700 N Santa Fe is collecting emergency relief supplies from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Bottled water, sports drinks, wipes, individually wrapped snacks, diapers, baby formula, hand towels, work gloves, rakes and shovels are requested. For more information, call 830-5964
The City of Yukon is accepting donations to help Moore tornado victims at the Yukon Police Department, 100 S Ranchwood Blvd. Bottled water, Gatorade, baby wipes, diapers, baby formula, hand towels, individually wrapped snacks, work gloves, shovels and dog food can be dropped off 24 hours a day through May 31. Checks will also be accepted. For more information, call 354-1711 or go to www.cityofyukonok.gov.
Rose State College's Office of Student Activities is accepting donations of bottled water, canned goods, diapers, sports drinks and nonperishable food items at 6420 SE 15 in Midwest City. Monetary donations will be forwarded to the Oklahoma Red Cross. For more information, call 733-7458.
The Oklahoma Farm Bureau and Affiliated Companies' main office at 2501 N Stiles, is accepting donations for those affected by the recent tornado. Critical items needed are bottled water, sports drinks, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, individually wrapped snack food, diapers, baby formula and work gloves. A trailer on the office's west side will accept donations for as long as needed. For more information, call 523-2347.
Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads, 7000 Crossroads Blvd., has opened its doors to organizations working to provide supplies to those displaced by the Moore tornado. In addition to being a command post for the Red Cross, and a delivery, sorting and distribution point for the Salvation Army, Plaza Mayor is accepting donations at the mall's southwest corner near the old J.C. Penney loading dock. For more information, call 631-4422.
The Kerr Foundation, working with volunteers Laura Ogle and Christy Coyle with a new organization called XO, is collecting professional clothing for women affected by the tornadoes. The group will accept blouses, dresses, pocketbooks and other wardrobe items for women preparing to return to work after the weather disaster may have demolished their wardrobes. The group will pick up items or you can drop them off at 12501 N May or On a Whim at Classen Curve. For information, call 209-4777.
St. Mary's Episcopal School, will serve as a drop-off location for donations to The Salvation Army 505 E Covell Rd, Edmond, 341-9541
Graceway Baptist Church will serve as a drop-off location for donations of bottled water, ready-to-eat food items, ibuprofen, band aids, gloves, batteries and hand sanitizer. 1100 SW 104. www.gracewayokc.org
DeVry University is serving as donation drop-off location at 4013 Northwest Expressway, Suite 100 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Thursday. All donations will go to the American Red Cross. The site will accept bottled or filtered water containers, Gatorade, nonperishable food, pre-packed snacks, diapers, formula, wipes, hand sanitizers, gloves, trash bags, rakes, shovels, flashlights, batteries, sunscreen. No clothes, bedding or housing items accepted.
Infant Crisis Services is needing basic necessities for families with babies and toddlers affected by the tornadoes.
The agency is requesting items from its disaster relief wish list, which includes: Good Start Gentle formula, Good Start Soy formula, diapers (sizes 1-6), wipes, sippy cups, bottles, baby wash and blankets or quilts. All in-kind donations received in the coming weeks will be used to give direct and immediate support to babies and toddlers affected by the May 20 tornado.
Those interested in participating in the relief efforts should drop off items from our wish list at the following locations: Infant Crisis Services, 4224 N Lincoln Blvd., Kelly-Moore Paint Company, 108 24th Ave. SW, Norman; Platt College, 2727 W Memorial Rd.; all Oklahoma City metro Sprint locations;
CARNEY — Environmental Management Inc. in Carney has set up a donation drop-off at its facility at 5200 NE Highway 33 for items needed in Carney, where 37 homes were demolished and about 60 others are damaged.
Current needs are: leather work gloves, shovels, rakes, Gatorade and contractor trash bags. They do not need water or clothes.
Cherokee Hills Christian Church, 6228 NW 39th in Bethany, has been turned into a donation receiving center for work gloves, bottled water and Gatorade. Donations are also being accepted there. Make checks to CHCC and put “tornado relief” in the memo.
Oklahoma City University has organized several relief efforts, including some to benefit about 20 members of the OCU community affected by the storms. Ongoing efforts and ways to help are listed at www.okcu.edu/relief. Items to aid victims can be dropped off at OCU's Kramer School of Nursing East in the student lounge located at NW 27 and Blackwelder Avenue between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays. Donations needed as part of this student-led effort include nonperishable food, bottled water, sunscreen, work gloves, dust masks and flashlights. A full list can be found on the relief website. OCU's Kappa Sigma fraternity also is accepting donations at their house located at 2412 N Virginia. Donations will be delivered to the Oklahoma Red Cross.
As Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, mobilizes for long-term disaster recovery in Carney, Little Axe, Moore, Shawnee and other areas affected by the recent tornadoes, the organization is in need of donated 10-gallon storage tubs. The tubs, which will be used for recovering possessions lost in the storms, can be delivered to Catholic Charities’ main office in Oklahoma City, 1501 N. Classen Blvd.
Catholic Charities is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Established in response to the May 3, 1999 tornadoes, Catholic Charities’ Disaster Recovery Services offer aid to Oklahomans with immediate and long-term needs during the recovery process.
To learn more about or make a monetary donation to Catholic Charities’ Disaster Recovery Fund, visit www.catholiccharitiesok.org or call 523-3000.CASH DONATIONS REQUESTED The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, in partnership with Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, is asking that the public support all rescue, recovery and disaster relief efforts with donations of cash to your favorite responding charity.
Financial donations will allow disaster relief agencies to purchase whatever items are deemed necessary without resulting in the additional burden of securing warehouse space and volunteers to work the donated product.
“The Regional Food Bank is coordinating efforts with other disaster relief agencies in our state to provide food and water for those in need,” Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank. “What we and other disaster relief agencies will need most from the public is financial donations.”
To make a tax deductible donation to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, go to www.regionalfoodbank.org or call 604-7111or text FOOD to 32333 to give $10 to relief efforts. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is working through local United Methodist churches and trained disaster response workers to provide immediate relief, assistance with cleanup and rebuilding, pastoral counseling and support for children and youth who have been through trauma.
To donate or receive more information, go online to www.umcor.org.
With Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief teams already responding to severe weather from Sunday in several locations, including Shawnee, Edmond and Little Axe, Oklahoma Baptists are assisting with recovery efforts from the tornado that hit Moore.
Those interested in helping can make a tax-deductible donation to the BGCO's Disaster Relief ministry, by visiting okdisasterhelp. comor calling 942-3800. All monies go toward disaster relief and helping victims. For photos, information and updates, visit the Oklahoma Baptists' blog at www.okdisasterhelp.com.
The Salvation Army Arkansas-Oklahoma Division has dispatched disaster response teams.
Donations can be made to: The Salvation Army Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK 73157. Designate Oklahoma Tornado Relief on all checks.
Donate by phone: (800) 725-2769. Donate online: donate.salvationarmyusa.org/uss/eds/aok. Donate by text: Text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.”
The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) has set up a n Oklahoma City Tornado Relief Fund, dedicated to gathering aid from across the Jewish Federation community for the victims of the devastating tornado that tore through the Oklahoma City area. JFNA has opened the donation mailbox to support relief efforts of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, and is coordinating relief efforts with the Oklahoma City Federation. Donors can contribute to the fund online at https://secure-fedweb.jewishfederations.org/page/contribute/oklahoma-city-tornado or send checks to the JFNA national mailbox at: The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268.