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May 2013 Tornado Coverage

The sun glistens off a cross at a makeshift memorial outside Plaza Towers Elementary School which was destroyed by a tornado nearly a week ago Sunday, May 26, 2013, in Moore, Okla. Monday's huge tornado destroyed the school killing seven students.
Charlie Riedel / AP

A week ago more than half-a-dozen tornadoes struck Oklahoma. Two people were killed in southern Oklahoma, and the EF4 tornado in Wynnewood near Interstate 35 is actually the strongest twister on record in this state in three years.

The memorial to the seven children who died May 20, 2013 at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Oklahomans are now finally starting to dry out after May brought as much as two feet of rain to some parts of the state. The tornadoes and flooding that have killed dozens in this state and its southern neighbor last month were a reminder of how cruel May can be when warming temperatures and moist Gulf air collide over the nation's midsection.

Meteorologist Jesus Lopez demonstrates some of the weather forecasting software at the Telemundo studios in Oklahoma City.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahoma’s Spanish speakers have more access to severe weather information now than they did two years ago when tornadoes ripped through Moore and other parts of the Oklahoma City metro. But despite the improvements, gaps in communication remain.

Those impacted by the Moore tornadoes continue to be reunited with their animals. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF) worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry

Oklahoma’s Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry has requested multiple pieces of legislation for the upcoming legislative session, said Legislative Liaison Blayne Arthur at a board meeting on Tuesday.

Arthur said General Counsel Teena Gunter has been working on putting together the correct language for these bills to submit them by the Jan 22 deadline, though they have already officially requested legislation.

One Month Left To Apply For SBA Disaster Loans

Nov 29, 2014
Scott Burkhart of Moore obtained an SBA disaster loan of more than $30,000 to pay for lost belongings and damage not covered by property insurance. The family just moved back into their house.
Nate Robson / Oklahoma Watch

December 30, 2014 is the deadline to apply for an SBA federal disaster loan for economic injury to small, non-farm businesses in in 23 Oklahoma Counties.

These low-interest loans are to offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by the drought in the following primary Oklahoma counties that began April 22, 2014.

Tanya N. Garfield, Director of the U. S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Disaster Field Operations Center - West,  said the primary Oklahoma Counties include Canadian, Garfield, Grant, Kay, Kingfisher, Logan, Noble, Oklahoma, Osage, Pawnee and Payne. Neighboring Oklahoma counties include Alfalfa, Blaine, Caddo, Cleveland, Creek, Grady, Lincoln, Major, McClain, Pottawatomie, Tulsa and Washington.

Moore Waits To Apply For FEMA's Safe Room Rebate Program

Aug 25, 2014
Wesley Fryer / Flickr Creative Commons

After last year’s tornadoes in central Oklahoma, FEMA allocated $4 million in hazard mitigation funding for communities to safeguard against future severe weather.

The City of Moore didn’t qualify for that money because of an expired hazard mitigation plan. Moore has since updated the plan and is now eligible for future FEMA money. But it doesn’t look like officials plan on applying for that funding any time soon.

Graham Lee Brewer / Facebook

Officials with Moore Public Schools are preparing for the new school year with a newly rebuilt Plaza Towers Elementary School following the 2013 tornado that killed seven students.

Officials with the school district and Plaza Towers led a media tour of the new school on Tuesday. Plaza Towers Elementary School was destroyed by an EF5 tornado on May 20, 2013. Seven students were killed.

Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

After a presidentially declared disaster like last year’s tornadoes in Central Oklahoma, the U.S. Small Business Administration often steps in, offering low-interest loans to help homeowners and businesses recover. But the SBA has been criticized in the past for being slow to respond. And following the 2013 storms in the Sooner State, many people still have complaints about the process.

Moore Medical Center after May 20, 2013 tornado
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mark Hybers

In 2007, Oklahoma was blitzed by a series of deadly storms, including an ice storm in January that engulfed most of central and eastern Oklahoma and killed 32 people.

Nearly seven years later, three of those federally declared disasters remain on active status. A handful of projects and audits have yet to be completed.

Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

The tornadoes and storms that devastated Oklahoma and killed 34 last year triggered the release of tens of millions of dollars in federal and state aid that will keep flowing for years.

To date, the federal government has approved up to $257 million in disaster assistance of various kinds to help re build damage and help victims of the winds and flooding that struck between May 18 and June 2, 2013, and to mitigate future risks.

The state has contributed an additional $10.5 million, and private insurers are paying about $1.1 billion. Charities also have pumped in aid.

The relief aid stemming from Disaster No. 4117, as it is called by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is arriving through several channels, heading ultimately to state and local agencies, contractors, businesses and individuals.

Jason Colston/American Red Cross

During tornado season, preparedness is key. Phrases like “Don’t be scared, be prepared” populate Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites when there’s a severe weather threat. One organization is now taking steps to ensure kids also know what to do when weather rolls in.

Shannon Reed is a Community Resiliency Specialist with the Red Cross. Last month, she spent a day in a gymnasium at Carney Elementary School, teaching kids about severe weather.

SFC Kendall James / defenseimagery.mil

The Oklahoma House reversed course Thursday night and narrowly passed a plan it had earlier defeated to help school districts pay for safety upgrades such as storm shelters and safe rooms.

House members voted 51-39 last night for the plan supported by Gov. Mary Fallin. It takes a minimum of 51 votes to pass a bill in the 101-member House.

The chamber had defeated the proposal hours earlier by a bipartisan vote of 61-34. House members said that Fallin's office had urged members of the majority GOP caucus to change their no votes.

An airman kneels and prays in the Moore neighborhood south of Plaza Towers Elementary School.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the May 20, 2013 tornado that killed 24 residents in Moore, injured hundreds, and caused an estimated $2 billion in damage.

To mark the occasion, the Norman Forecast Office of the National Weather Service put together a presentation highlighting a dozen observations from the 2013 storms in the community also hard-hit by strong, violent tornadoes in May 1999 and May 2013.

Kate Carlton / The Oklahoma Tornado Project

Local and state officials gathered Tuesday morning in Moore to honor the 24 people killed and hundreds injured May 20, 2013 when a tornado struck the city.

Gov. Mary Fallin said thousands of Oklahomans went above and beyond the call of duty last year, but singled out educators from Briarwood and Plaza Towers Elementary Schools.

"Our teachers who used their own bodies as a shield, to help save children, to help protect children,” Fallin said. “Our teachers are our heroes."

A devastating EF-5 tornado ripped through Moore, Okla., a year ago Tuesday. Just 11 days later, another twister ravaged the Oklahoma City metro area.

Nine of the 23 people who died as a result of the second storm were members of the local Latino community. Their deaths have sparked efforts to better prepare Hispanic families for storms.

On a windy afternoon in Oklahoma City, American Red Cross volunteer Ivelisse Cruz hands out stickers to families at the Children's Day Festival.

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