Oklahoma Tornado Kills 91 People

May 22, 2013 11:14 am

A huge mile wide tornado devastated the small suburb of Moore, Oklahoma on Monday leaving 91 dead and many more injured. Of the 91 at least 20 are believed to be children.

Editor’s note: This article was written on Tuesday 21/05 where it was widely reported 91 people had been killed. Official figures now released show that 24 people were killed, 9 of which were children. Many others were injured.

Moore

Total devastation in Moore, Oklahoma

The air was hot and thick Monday afternoon as I recall. A damp air saturated everything and as the evening went on it became increasingly uncomfortable to be out in it. A strange urge for a cool breeze swept over me anytime I ventured out for a smoke and for the rest of the day the freakish humidity lingered. It is morning now and the need for a cooling wind has evaporated except on this morning nowhere is that feeling more true than in a little suburb of Oklahoma called Moore.

The people of Moore, a suburb about 10 miles from Oklahoma City experienced winds of up to 200mph as an EF-4 on the 5-point Enhanced Fujita scale touched down at 14:56 (19:56 GMT) and stayed grounded for about 40 minutes before dissipating. The storm tore through parts of the community like a mile wide drunken sumo wrestler obliterating everything in it’s path and destroying, among other things, two local schools. Around 140 people are being treated in hospitals with around 70 of that number being children. Of the 91 fatalities reported at least 20 are believed to also be children most of whom sought shelter in the Plaza Towers Elementary school when the tornado warnings were issued 16 minutes before it touched down.

The scenes of complete destruction that began to emerge during and after the tornado illustrate the power of these towering hell-tubes from the sky that are often glazed over due to the much larger appearances of their windy cousins Hurricanes. Tornadoes occur when rising warm air collides and cold fronts collide causing a funnel effect, these funnels appear to grow downwards out of the storm clouds and once they hit the ground they are classed as a tornado. Once they have touched down tornadoes can then be rated on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, a 6-point scale ranging from 0 to 5 based on wind speeds and damage caused by tornadoes.

After the tornado dissipated residents began frantically searching for missing relatives and neighbours and worked in teams to shift through the rubble in search of survivors. Children were passed down chains of people so as to get them to medical staff as quickly as possible. As well as several search and rescue teams 80 members of the national guard were deployed to assist with the salvage and rescue attempts and president Obama declared the event “a major disaster” and ordered federal aid to help with local efforts.

The tornado at Moore reached the EF-4 rating making it the second most powerful type of tornado on the scale with damage described as being “completely devastating” and “nightmarish” and wind speeds of up to 200 mph. But those aren’t the highest wind speeds ever recorded at Moore. On May 3rd, 1999 a tornado touched down that recorded wind speeds of up to 302 mph. Those remain the strongest winds ever recorded on Earth to this day. It is hard to comprehend what such winds would be like if you have never experienced a tornado, I for one live in a country that apparently gets around 100 a year, although these are rarely reported on due to their size, time scale and the little to no damage they cause.

Moore, with a population of about 41,000 sits in an area of the US known as “Tornado Alley” notorious for its deadly tornadoes. In a list of the top ten states with the most tornadoes per 10,000  square miles per year Oklahoma comes in at second with 8.2 trailing only Florida with 9.4. Florida, ironically, isn’t even close to Tornado Alley yet still receives more tornadoes than any other state per 10,000 square miles but the intensity of these is no where near that of those formed within the Tornado Alley region.

oklahoma tornado damage

Entire neighbourhoods were levelled

With weather patterns today set to be monitored closely in case of any other outbreaks the task for the citizens of Moore now is focused on rescue and rebuild and hope that there are more survivors to be found alive. Sadly it is not the first time people in this community have had to rebuild from such a powerful tornado in recent years. In 1999, 2003, 2010 and 2013 Moore has been devastated by tornadoes of an EF-4 strength or higher and until 2011 the May 3rd tornado held the record for being the most damaging and costly in US history. The April 25-28, 2011 tornado outbreak was the largest continuous outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded. It spanned three and a half days with 358 confirmed tornadoes touching down 15 of which were level EF-4 or higher.

This is an event that will continue to affect people living in this area long after all the press and cameras disappear. The media spotlight might move on but they won’t, the people in this community will have long months of hard work and reconstruction of both the town and their lives. The cost of rebuilding an entire neighbourhood is nothing in comparison to rebuilding the lives of its inhabitants. Yet there seem to be people even now getting in the way of the reconstruction effort. Republican senator Tom Coburn has recently stated that he will insist that any federal disaster aid be paid for with cuts elsewhere. Can this moronic little pig fucker be serious? CQ Roll Call reporter Jennifer Scholtes wrote for CQ.com on Monday that Coburn said he would “absolutely” demand offsets for any federal aid that Congress provides. It is also known that this same weasel scrote voted against disaster funding for Superstorm Sandy in January.

How the argument will go down with the US congress is anyones guess. For now, the people of Moore will once again dig through the remains of their homes and try to rebuild what little they have left.

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