Kathy Turner works with Take Shelter Oklahoma. The group wants to build safe rooms to protect students from tornadoes like the one that destroyed Briarwood and Plaza Towers Elementary Schools in Moore. Turner says her experience as a former school administrator showed her how important government funding can be.
Motivated by adventure, science, and awe at the power of nature, stormchasers are risking it all to get closer to tornadoes than ever before. Last spring, during the deadly Oklahoma City outbreaks, they got more than they bargained for.
THE TOWNS IN Canadian County, Oklahoma, stand like so many thousands of others out on the prairie-anonymous grids of streets and continuous brick facades stamped into the plains by the same great waffle iron. Not much has happened in this rural area 30 miles west of Oklahoma City since the county was settled in one afternoon during the April 22, 1889, Land Run.
Gov. Mary Fallin has declared a drought emergency for parts of southwestern Oklahoma and a portion of the far western Panhandle.
Despite recent rainfall across much of Oklahoma, information released Tuesday by the U.S. Drought Monitor indicates extreme-to-exceptional drought conditions in the western part of the state. The counties included in the drought emergency are Jackson, Tillman, Greer, Harmon and Texas.
Kristy Yager is the Public Information Officer for Oklahoma City. She’s used to creating game plans for emergencies. So when May 20 came, she made her way to a bunker with emergency managers, police and a handful of city officials. She’d prepared for the crisis as best she could, but found herself overwhelmed trying to handle the influx of media requests.
“The minute that tornado hit the ground, I started getting national phone calls from everyone, from Fox, from CNN, from ABC, NBC, CBS,” Yager said. “I was having a very hard time managing the calls.”
After tornadoes tore through the state last May, Oklahomans were eager to offer help. Four months later, some groups have closed their doors and moved on, leaving people stuck in red tape with nowhere to go. Recently, the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project opened its doors to the 2,500 individuals still trying to navigate their way through the recovery process.