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Oklahoma tornado

A tornado that was reported to be an EF4 (winds 166 to 200 mph) and nearly two miles wide struck an Oklahoma City suburb in the early afternoon on May 20.

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Moore, Oklahoma (CNN) – Even for a city toughened by disaster, Moore has never seen this kind of devastation.

A massive, howling tornado pulverized a vast swath of the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, chewing up homes and businesses, and severely damaging a hospital and two elementary schools.

The storm carved a trail through the area as much as two miles wide and 22 miles long, officials said.

The storm killed dozens, but amid the confusion of search and rescue efforts, a precise death toll was hard to come by. Hundreds of people were injured.

Firefighters, police, National Guard members and volunteers worked by flashlight overnight and into Tuesday morning, crawling across piles of debris in a determined search for survivors and victims. Air National Guard members brought in thermal imaging equipment to aid in the work.

Complicating their efforts: downed power lines, hissing natural gas pipes and so much debris blocking roads it was difficult to bring in heavy equipment to help.

dog1

Photo courtesy Reddit

Still, more than 100 people had been pulled from the rubble alive since Monday afternoon, the state Highway Patrol said.

Early Tuesday, authorities asked news crews to move satellite trucks from the scene because the idling engines were making it difficult for rescuers to listen for the faint sounds of survivors beneath the rubble.

“We’re a tough state. This is a tough community,” Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb told CNN on Tuesday. “There is hope. We always have hope. We always have faith.”

Plaza Towers Elementary School was in the direct path of the storm. About 75 students and staff members were hunkered down in Plaza Towers when the tornado struck, CNN affiliate KFOR reported.

At one point, an estimated 24 children were missing from the school, but some later turned up at nearby churches.

On Monday, a father of a third-grader still missing sat quietly on a stool outside. Tears cascaded from his face as he waited for any news.

Even parents of survivors couldn’t wrap their minds around the tragedy.

“I’m speechless. How did this happen? Why did this happen?” Norma Bautista asked. “How do we explain this to the kids? … In an instant, everything’s gone.”

The storm also struck Briarwood Elementary School, KFOR reported.

Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis told CNN on Tuesday morning that he had been told four people remained unaccounted for. He was hopeful that at least one or two would be found alive.

And across town, Moore Medical Center took a direct hit.

“Our hospital has been devastated,” Lewis said. “We had a two-story hospital, now we have a one. And it’s not occupiable.”

So 145 of the injured were rushed to three other area hospitals.

That number includes 45 children taken to the children’s hospital at Oklahoma University Medical Center, Dr. Roxie Albrecht said. Injuries ranged from minor to severe, including impalement and crushing injuries.

The death toll is unclear. The state medical examiner’s office said it received reports of 51 deaths in the early stages of search and recovery efforts Monday. But it said it had received only 24 bodies at its Oklahoma City office.

Earlier, the medical examiner’s office said as many as 40 additional people — roughly half of them children — would be added to the death toll. More bodies could be hidden under the vast debris field, authorities warned.

Authorities also had to shut down a stretch of Interstate 35 after the storm showered it with debris from nearby homes it had destroyed. The highway was opened again Tuesday morning, the Highway Patrol said.

Not the first time

Moore, and the Oklahoma City region, are far too familiar with disaster. In 1995, 168 people died in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

In 1999 and then again in 2003, Moore took direct hits from tornadoes that took eerily similar paths to Monday’s storm. The 1999 storm packed the strongest wind speeds in history, Lamb said.

This time, the two-mile-wide twister stayed on the ground for a full 40 minutes, carving its 22-mile path where thousands of residents live.

The tornado first touched down in Newcastle, Oklahoma, before ripping into neighboring Moore.

An early estimate rated the tornado as an EF4, meaning it had winds between 166 and 200 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Lamb likened the destruction to a “two-mile-wide lawnmower blade going over a community.”

State Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph told CNN affiliate KOKI that it was “mass devastation.”

“I’m talking everywhere you looked, the debris field was so high, and so far and so wide, wounded people walking around the streets,” she said. “They were bloody, there were people that had stuff sticking out of them from things that were flying around in the air. There were cars crumpled up like little toys and thrown on top of buildings. Buildings that were two and three stories tall that were leveled.”

Storm chaser Lauren Hill was part of a team that recorded video of the massive tornado as it ripped through town.

“You could actually feel the vibration from the tornado itself as it was approaching,” she said.

“We still have a bit of PTSD,” she said. “It’s devastating.”

Still digging

After the ear-shattering howl subsided, survivors along the miles of destruction emerged from shelters to see an apocalyptic vision. Homes and other buildings were shredded to pieces. Remnants of mangled cars were piled on top of each other. What used to be a parking lot now looked like a junkyard.

“People are wandering around like zombies,” KFOR reporter Scott Hines said. “It’s like they’re not realizing how to process what had just happened.”

James Dickens is not a firefighter or medic. He’s actually a gas-and-oil pipeline worker. But that didn’t stop him from grabbing a hard hat and joining other rescuers at Plaza Towers Elementary School.

“I felt it was my duty to come help,” he said Tuesday after a long night of searching.

“As a father, it’s humbling. It’s heartbreaking to know that we’ve still got kids over there that’s possibly alive, but we don’t know.”

Hiding in freezers

Hines said rescuers found a 7-month-old baby and its mother hiding in a giant freezer. But they didn’t survive.

At the devastated hospital in Moore, some doctors had to jump into a freezer to survive, Lamb said.

Lando Hite, shirtless and spattered in mud, described how the storm pummeled the Orr Family Farm in Moore, which had about 80 horses before the storm hit.

“It was just like the movie ‘Twister,’ ” Hite told KFOR. “There were horses and stuff flying around everywhere.”

More trouble brewing

Some 40,000 people remained without power, a utility spokesman said Tuesday.

And the storm system that spawned Monday’s tornado and several other twisters Sunday isn’t over yet.

Southwest Arkansas and northeast Texas, including Dallas, are under the gun for severe weather Tuesday. Those areas could see large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes.

A broader swath of the United States, from Texas to Indiana and up to Michigan, could see severe thunderstorms.

“We could have a round 3,” CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera said. “Hopefully, it won’t be as bad.”

guy

Courtesy Reddit user Statola. Titled “My brother’s friend after the tornado standing in front of his former house.”

 

National & World News
05/21/13

Helping with disaster in the heartland

MOORE, Okla. — For the second day in a row, violent storms have ripped through America’s heartland.

Much of Moore, Oklahoma, which is just outside of Oklahoma City, is now a devastated pile of rubble.

The search and rescue mission continues this evening after a massive tornado touched down Monday afternoon. CNN affiliate KFOR reported that at one time, the tornado was estimated to be at least 2 miles wide, and the National Weather Service is also saying the scale of the tornado is at least EF4. This is the second most severe classification of tornado.

It is clear the days ahead are grave for the people of Oklahoma and the need for help will be immense.

There are several organizations already mobilizing on the ground in Moore, and you can help as well through these groups:

okc tornado3 05-20-13The Red Cross

The Red Cross of Oklahoma has activated its safe and well website for those who are trying to reconnect with loved ones. Red Cross officials and volunteers are also beginning to open shelters. The first is at St. Andrews Church. You can help their efforts by donating to the Red Cross online or by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army has also jumped into action. It’s in multiple locations throughout cities in Oklahoma providing food, hydration and emotional support to first responders and storm survivors. You can contribute to the Salvation Army by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769), online on their website, by texting “STORM” to 80888 to make an automatic $10 donation or by mail:

The Salvation Army
PO Box 12600
Oklahoma City, OK 73157

Feeding America

Feeding America is responding by providing food, water and supplies to the residents of the devastated towns in Oklahoma. The group will continue to assess the need on the ground for more assistance as recovery efforts continue.

Samaritan’s Purse

Samaritan’s Purse deployed a group of staff members to travel from its North Carolina headquarters to head to Oklahoma with a Disaster Relief Unit. The unit is a tractor trailer stocked with emergency supplies and equipment.

AmeriCares

Global health and disaster relief nonprofit AmeriCares is also mobilizing a team to help in Oklahoma. Its emergency response team is headed to the region to coordinate deliveries of relief supplies and medical aid for survivors. The team is expected to arrive by morning.

Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon, a group of military veterans who respond to disaster, have issued the call to members and is heading to the region. By Tuesday morning, initial assessment teams will be on the ground, and they will then mobilize a full response to help the people affected by these storms.

Moore, Oklahoma (CNN) – Even for a city toughened by disaster, Moore has never seen this kind of devastation.

A massive, howling tornado pulverized a vast swath of the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, chewing up homes and businesses, and severely damaging a hospital and two elementary schools.

The storm carved a trail through the area as much as two miles wide and 22 miles long, officials said.

The storm killed dozens, but amid the confusion of search and rescue efforts, a precise death toll was hard to come by. Hundreds of people were injured.

Firefighters, police, National Guard members and volunteers worked by flashlight overnight and into Tuesday morning, crawling across piles of debris in a determined search for survivors and victims. Air National Guard members brought in thermal imaging equipment to aid in the work.

Complicating their efforts: downed power lines, hissing natural gas pipes and so much debris blocking roads it was difficult to bring in heavy equipment to help.

Still, more than 100 people had been pulled from the rubble alive since Monday afternoon, the state Highway Patrol said.

Early Tuesday, authorities asked news crews to move satellite trucks from the scene because the idling engines were making it difficult for rescuers to listen for the faint sounds of survivors beneath the rubble.

“We’re a tough state. This is a tough community,” Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb told CNN on Tuesday. “There is hope. We always have hope. We always have faith.”

Plaza Towers Elementary School was in the direct path of the storm. About 75 students and staff members were hunkered down in Plaza Towers when the tornado struck, CNN affiliate KFOR reported.

At one point, an estimated 24 children were missing from the school, but some later turned up at nearby churches.

On Monday, a father of a third-grader still missing sat quietly on a stool outside. Tears cascaded from his face as he waited for any news.

Even parents of survivors couldn’t wrap their minds around the tragedy.

“I’m speechless. How did this happen? Why did this happen?” Norma Bautista asked. “How do we explain this to the kids? … In an instant, everything’s gone.”

The storm also struck Briarwood Elementary School, KFOR reported.

Tornado

Courtesy CNN

Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis told CNN on Tuesday morning that he had been told four people remained unaccounted for. He was hopeful that at least one or two would be found alive.

And across town, Moore Medical Center took a direct hit.

“Our hospital has been devastated,” Lewis said. “We had a two-story hospital, now we have a one. And it’s not occupiable.”

So 145 of the injured were rushed to three other area hospitals.

That number includes 45 children taken to the children’s hospital at Oklahoma University Medical Center, Dr. Roxie Albrecht said. Injuries ranged from minor to severe, including impalement and crushing injuries.

The death toll is unclear. The state medical examiner’s office said it received reports of 51 deaths in the early stages of search and recovery efforts Monday. But it said it had received only 24 bodies at its Oklahoma City office.

Earlier, the medical examiner’s office said as many as 40 additional people — roughly half of them children — would be added to the death toll. More bodies could be hidden under the vast debris field, authorities warned.

Authorities also had to shut down a stretch of Interstate 35 after the storm showered it with debris from nearby homes it had destroyed. The highway was opened again Tuesday morning, the Highway Patrol said.

Not the first time

Moore, and the Oklahoma City region, are far too familiar with disaster. In 1995, 168 people died in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

In 1999 and then again in 2003, Moore took direct hits from tornadoes that took eerily similar paths to Monday’s storm. The 1999 storm packed the strongest wind speeds in history, Lamb said.

This time, the two-mile-wide twister stayed on the ground for a full 40 minutes, carving its 22-mile path where thousands of residents live.

The tornado first touched down in Newcastle, Oklahoma, before ripping into neighboring Moore.

An early estimate rated the tornado as an EF4, meaning it had winds between 166 and 200 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Lamb likened the destruction to a “two-mile-wide lawnmower blade going over a community.”

State Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph told CNN affiliate KOKI that it was “mass devastation.”

“I’m talking everywhere you looked, the debris field was so high, and so far and so wide, wounded people walking around the streets,” she said. “They were bloody, there were people that had stuff sticking out of them from things that were flying around in the air. There were cars crumpled up like little toys and thrown on top of buildings. Buildings that were two and three stories tall that were leveled.”

Storm chaser Lauren Hill was part of a team that recorded video of the massive tornado as it ripped through town.

“You could actually feel the vibration from the tornado itself as it was approaching,” she said.

“We still have a bit of PTSD,” she said. “It’s devastating.”

Still digging

After the ear-shattering howl subsided, survivors along the miles of destruction emerged from shelters to see an apocalyptic vision. Homes and other buildings were shredded to pieces. Remnants of mangled cars were piled on top of each other. What used to be a parking lot now looked like a junkyard.

“People are wandering around like zombies,” KFOR reporter Scott Hines said. “It’s like they’re not realizing how to process what had just happened.”

James Dickens is not a firefighter or medic. He’s actually a gas-and-oil pipeline worker. But that didn’t stop him from grabbing a hard hat and joining other rescuers at Plaza Towers Elementary School.

“I felt it was my duty to come help,” he said Tuesday after a long night of searching.

“As a father, it’s humbling. It’s heartbreaking to know that we’ve still got kids over there that’s possibly alive, but we don’t know.”

Hiding in freezers

Hines said rescuers found a 7-month-old baby and its mother hiding in a giant freezer. But they didn’t survive.

At the devastated hospital in Moore, some doctors had to jump into a freezer to survive, Lamb said.

Lando Hite, shirtless and spattered in mud, described how the storm pummeled the Orr Family Farm in Moore, which had about 80 horses before the storm hit.

“It was just like the movie ‘Twister,’ ” Hite told KFOR. “There were horses and stuff flying around everywhere.”

More trouble brewing

Some 40,000 people remained without power, a utility spokesman said Tuesday.

And the storm system that spawned Monday’s tornado and several other twisters Sunday isn’t over yet.

Southwest Arkansas and northeast Texas, including Dallas, are under the gun for severe weather Tuesday. Those areas could see large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes.

A broader swath of the United States, from Texas to Indiana and up to Michigan, could see severe thunderstorms.

“We could have a round 3,” CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera said. “Hopefully, it won’t be as bad.

MOORE, Okla. — It was a massive tornado that dropped from the clouds: Wind speeds near 200 mph or greater. It was 2 miles wide and on the ground for 40 minutes.

destroy3

Bloodied teachers carry children away from Briarwood Elementary School after a tornado destroyed the school. (Photo: Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman)

From the air, the devastation is just unbelievable — entire neighborhood demolished, schools destroyed and the local hospital heavily damaged.

Those caught in the path of the twister recount the horror of what they saw.

“Kids everywhere, people running around screaming. There were cars on their sides. School is just gone. I mean you really can’t tell what the front was and what the back was anymore,” one survivor said.

Another survivor said. “It just looked like a big meat grinder, blender, just the way the movies make it look, absolute carnage, sky full of things that need to be on the ground. It was insane.”

Moore, Okla., suffered a direct hit.

Plaza Towers Elementary school was destroyed and at least seven children died inside.

“It was just debris, there were just cars beat up. My mom was flipping out about her car. She was on top of me.  She was able to be with me.  She’s a 6th-grade teacher, she was my fourth hour,” student Brady said.

Briar Elementary School was also hit hard but students there a little more fortunate.

“Me and four other guys pulled a teacher out. She was on top of three kids. The kids were fine. She was hurt pretty bad. We put her on a door and then put her on top of a Jeep and wheeled her out to the ambulances because there were so many cars around. But, other than that as far as I know most of the kids got out,” a rescue worker said.

An unknown number of homes have been destroyed.

Mercedes and Marissa Miley rode it out in a storm shelter and lived to tell the tale.

“We’ve lived in Oklahoma all our lives and this is the first time I’ve ever heard it. We were down in the storm shelter and I went to pick her up early from school. We actually heard it go over us with our ears popping, this is something we’ve never experienced,” Mercedes Miley said.

“My mom told me not to look up. I was just holding my mom tight and was frightened,” Marissa Miley said.

“We were pulling walls off of people.  There were people crawling out from everywhere and anywhere, basically just a war zone,” witness Thomas Earson said.

There is a lot of help on the way to Moore from around the region and around the country.

MOORE, Okla. (CNN) — Rescue workers raced against time and the oncoming night Monday looking for survivors after a powerful tornado devastated an area outside of Oklahoma City, leveling homes and killing at least 51 people, including 20 children.

okc tornado2 05-20-13The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office has been told to expect about 40 additional bodies, according the office’s Amy Elliott. The official death toll of 51 will not rise until the bodies are processed.

According to KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed at least 233 people have been injured. That number is expected to rise.

Among those killed were a family of four with a baby near 4th Street and Telephone Road in Moore. Officials said the family tried to take shelter in a freezer.

At least 20 of the dead were children, including at least seven from Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, which lay directly in the path of the monster storm’s wall of wind.

Seventy-five students and staff members had been huddled at the school when the storm hit, CNN affiliate KFOR reported.

As nightfall approached, determined searchers in hard hats dug in the debris for students possibly still trapped.

A father of a third-grader still missing sat quietly on a stool, tears falling from his eyes as he waited for news of his son.

A temporary flight restriction was put in place over the school so that aircraft would stay away and emergency officials on the ground might hear any cries for help, said Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration.

After the ear-shattering howl of the killer storm subsided, survivors along the miles of destruction emerged from shelters to see an apocalyptic vision — the remnants of cars twisted and piled on each other to make what had been a parking lot look like a junk yard. Bright orange flames flew from a structure that was blazing even as rain continued to fall.

“Our worst fears are becoming realized this afternoon,” Bill Bunting, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center, told CNN.

The preliminary rating of damage created by the tornado is at least EF4 (winds 166 to 200 mph) — the second-most severe classification on a scale of zero to five — the National Weather Service said.

The tornado was estimated to be at least two miles wide at one point as it moved through Moore, KFOR-TV reported.

Lando Hite, shirtless and spattered in mud, told the station about the storm hitting the Orr Family Farm in Moore, which had about 80 horses.

“It was just like the movie ‘Twister,’” he said, standing amid the debris. “There were horses and stuff flying around everywhere.”

The tornado damaged several barns and he was worried many of the animals were killed.

Hite said he did not hear any warnings or sirens.

“It was real windy and everything stopped. Being from Oklahoma, I knew that was not right.”

Twenty patients, including 12 adults and eight children, were in trauma rooms at Oklahoma University (OU) Medical Center and at the Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center, said spokesman Scott Coppenbarger.

Injuries ranged from minor to critical.

Moore Medical Center in Oklahoma was evacuated after it sustained damage, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Norman Regional Hospital and the Healthplex were treating an unspecified number of people with “signs of trauma, lacerations and broken bones,” spokeswoman Melissa Herron said.

Interstate 35 in Moore was closed as a result of debris from the tornado, Oklahoma Department of Transportation spokesman Cole Hackett said. Crews were heading to the north-south highway to start the cleanup process.

“People are trapped. You are going to see the devastation for days to come,” said Betsy Randolph, spokeswoman for Oklahoma Highway Patrol. She did not say how many people were trapped.

More than 38,000 electricity customers in Oklahoma are without power, according to local power providers.

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