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.
Supporters of an initiative petition to fund tornado shelters in Oklahoma schools are gathering the thousands of signatures needed to send the proposal to a statewide vote, but Gov. Mary Fallin won’t be on the list.
The Tulsa World‘s Barbara Hoberock reports the plan, which would use revenue from the state franchise tax to pay the $500 million debt, does not have the governor’s support:
A proponent of a ballot measure to place storm shelters in Oklahoma schools says a survey of all public schools in the state shows more than 60 percent without a refuge or safe area.
Rush Springs Democratic state Representative Joe Dorman announced the results of the survey on Thursday of all 517 school districts in Oklahoma's 77 counties. The survey was paid for by Coreslab Structures, a company that manufactures precast concrete products with two plants in Oklahoma.
Two organizations in Central Oklahoma will receive more than half-a-million dollars from the U.S. Department of Commerce as part of its Economic Development Administration grant program.
The City of Moore will receive $300,000 to hire a disaster coordinator develop strategies during the rebuilding efforts after May’s devastating tornado. The job will also be responsible for managing disaster assistance at the federal, state and local level.
Organizers have launched a signature-gathering campaign for a $500 million bond issue to put storm shelters in public schools.
The group Take Shelter Oklahoma filed a petition on Wednesday with the Oklahoma Secretary of State's office to get the issue on a statewide ballot. Once the ballot language is given final approval by the attorney general, supporters have 90 days to gather about 155,000 signatures of registered voters.
The plan calls for the debt service on the bond issue to be paid by the annual franchise tax levied on businesses.
Leaders in Moore say tornado recovery efforts have caused sales tax collections to skyrocket in the city.
The Norman Transcriptreports that Moore received more than $2.6 million in total sales tax from the Oklahoma Tax Commission in September. That includes general fund receipts, which are up more than 12 percent from last year.
City Manager Stephen Eddy calls the numbers "amazing" and says rebuilding efforts from the May 20 tornado are likely responsible.