Friday Summary of Oklahoma Tornado News

May 24, 2013

Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

  Gov. Mary Fallin has signed a bill that will allow the state to access $45 million from the state's Rainy Day Fund to help communities recover from tornado damage. Fallin on Friday signed a bill that the House and Senate passed unanimously in the wake of the deadly tornado that raked across the state on Monday, killing 24 people and injuring hundreds more. It allows the state to use the money to match federal disaster funds and for other "disaster-related assistance." The state's Rainy Day Fund, a constitutional reserve fund, currently has a balance of about $577 million. Up to 25 percent of the money can be accessed to pay for emergency-related expenses. The rest is reserved for when the state experiences budget shortfalls.

Governor Mary Fallin says Oklahoma isn't going to mandate storm shelters or safe rooms in the aftermath of the Moore tornado. The city's mayor wants to propose a city ordinance requiring all new homes to have storm shelters. But he says the city may only be able to require them for new assisted living facilities and apartment complexes.

The House and Senate on Friday, in response to the deadly twister that tore through the Oklahoma City area on Monday, passed a bill to provide tax breaks to property and vehicle owners who suffered losses from the storm. Fallin indicated she would sign the measure.

Public agencies in Moore have opened streets to residents and resumed mail delivery to as many addresses as possible. At a news conference Friday, police said residents in the hardest-hit areas can go back into their neighborhoods without having to deal with police checkpoints. Some road closures may still occur as utility crews work to restore service. Moore's postmaster said 85 percent of mail delivered from the Moore station is being delivered, and that mail deliveries from the Santa Fe station are up to 95 percent. For those whose mail is not being delivered, those with ZIP codes 73153 and 73160 can pick up mail at the Airport Finance unit on Air Cargo Road. Those in ZIP code 73170 can go to the Santa Fe station for their mail.

Blake Shelton has a date and location for his benefit and fellow Oklahoman Carrie Underwood is writing a large check to help those affected by this week's storms. The "Healing in the Heartland" concert will be held May 29th at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. The event will be televised live on NBC. Underwood is donating $1 million from her recent Blown Away Tour to the Red Cross.

Friends and teammates of Kyle Davis attended the boy's funeral wearing soccer jerseys bearing the number "16." A funeral was held Friday for the 8-year-old, known by his soccer teammates "The Wall." His teammates wore their own jerseys, and adults and others in the crowd wore shirts reading "K. Davis 16." Soccer coach Landon House said Kyle inspired him to remain in coaching, telling him during an especially cold practice last fall that he really loved the game. House said the child had a positive attitude toward life, soccer and his teammates. Kyle was among seven children killed when the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore collapsed when hit by an EF5 tornado Monday. Monday's storm killed 24 people, including 10 children. Another twister Sunday killed two men at Shawnee.

The principal of the Oklahoma elementary school where seven children died in a tornado says teachers did everything they could to save lives. Plaza Towers Elementary Principal Amy Simpson says the children regularly had tornado drills and bravely faced the powerful storm. Simpson says some teachers took the weight of collapsed walls onto their bodies to save children.

The Small Business Administration is opening a recovery center to help business owners affected by the tornado in Moore to seek government assistance. The center is at the Moore Norman Technology Center's South Penn Campus. Businesses can apply to the SBA for low-interest disaster loans of up to $2 million.

Nike has announced plans to donate $1 million worth of shoes and clothing to aid people affected by the tornado in Oklahoma this week. Nike says it will make its donations through the nonprofit organization Good360 to prequalified charities. The Oregon-based company will also donate proceeds from sales of Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant's KD V (five) Elite sneaker sold on through June 15 to the Moore Public School Foundation and to a nonprofit group that rebuilds playgrounds. Durant, who pledge $1 million toward the tornado relief effort, posted on Twitter that he had asked Nike to chip in, too.