By now most of you have heard the devastating news out of Oklahoma City.

Rescue teams combed through pulverized buildings and splintered homes early Tuesday after a tornado blasted through Oklahoma City and its suburbs, killing at least 24 people, including eight children.  The confirmed death toll from the Oklahoma medical examiner was lowered from an earlier figure of 51.

In Moore, where police said 19 people had been killed and, at least 120 people were injured, entire blocks appeared as though they had been razed, and cars were mangled beyond recognition.  Piled up where houses once stood were scraps of wood, clothes, glass and metal.

Children were among the many missing after the tornado struck Monday afternoon and delivered a direct hit to two elementary schools.  Seven children drowned in a pool of water at Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was all but leveled, officials said.  The twister also laid waste to a hospital.

Forecasters warned that more tornadoes were possible in areas of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas today and strong thunderstorms are also forecast from Kansas to Chicago.

The dead included the 19 in Moore and five in southern neighborhoods of Oklahoma City. The eight children included the seven at Plaza Towers and one at Briarwood Elementary School.

The tornado tore the roof off the elementary school about 3 p.m. local time. All of the students in fourth, fifth and sixth grade were evacuated to a church, but students in the lower grades were sheltered in place. Several children were pulled out alive more than two hours after the storm.

Rescuers walked through mile after mile of obliterated homes on Monday night, listening for voices calling out from the wreckage.  At one hospital, 85 patients, including 65 children, were being treated for minor to critical injuries.

The twister cut a path similar to a tornado outbreak that ravaged Oklahoma and Kansas on May 3, 1999, killing 46 people and damaging or destroying more than 8,000 homes. Wind in that outbreak was clocked at 318 mph, the fastest ever recorded.

The twister was a mile wide at its base, according to The Weather Channel.  A reporter for KFOR said the tornado kicked up a cloud of debris perhaps two miles wide.  The National Weather Service initially classified the storm as an EF4, the second-strongest type, with winds of 166 to 200 mph.

The tornado Monday also came one day after another cluster of storms in Oklahoma that killed two elderly men in the town of Shawnee.  Tens of millions of people from Texas to the Great Lakes — an area covering 55 million people — had been warned to brace for the severe weather.

Now, I feel bad for those poor people who lost property and lost loved ones, but I question why those children were kept in the school.  I have seen a lot of damaged structures due to storm damage and buildings with long spans of roof supports seem to do worse.

Also, it was reported that the people of Moore, Oklahoma had a 30 minute warning before this tornado struck the community.  Why evacuate the older students, which all survived, and leave the younger students at the school?  This area of Oklahoma City has been hit by three tornadoes since 1999.  You would think that there would be more shelters available and especially at schools, hospitals, and elderly care facilities.  Hopefully, the authorities learn a lesson and act on this.

As a final note…if you should decide to donate monies to help the victims, you are better off donating to the Salvation Army, than the Red Cross.  97 cents of every dollar raised by the Salvation Army goes directly to help the victims of disasters.

Advertisements