May 2013 Tornado Coverage

The aftermath of the May 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan has announced an additional $109 million in disaster aid for Moore and the state of Oklahoma for recovery efforts from last year's tornadoes and other disasters.

Moore will receive nearly $26 million and the state will receive $83 million from the federal agency's community development block grant program.

Monday's announcement is in addition to nearly $28 million in HUD funds announced last August.

The aftermath of the May 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Senate has approved legislation that makes looting a felony in Oklahoma.

The Senate passed the measure 36-1 Tuesday evening and sent it to the House for consideration.

The measure by Republican Sen. Anthony Sykes of Moore elevates the crime of looting from a misdemeanor offense to a felony, with a penalty for violations ranging from two to seven years in prison.

Sykes says the measure is a response to incidents of looting after a massive tornado destroyed homes and business in Moore last May.

The National Guard / Flickr Creative Commons

Friday’s edition of The Journal Record reveals improper construction and violation of building codes led to the destruction of two Moore, Okla. elementary schools when a tornado hit May 20, 2013.

KGOU’s Kurt Gwartney talked with the reporter, M. Scott Carter, who obtained a soon-to-be released report showing a shocking lack of standard building practices in both Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools.

Detailed in a soon-to-be-released report for the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Structural Engineering Institute, an analysis of the debris of the Briarwood Elementary School showed that several of the building’s steel roof beams were not attached to the walls, many of Briarwood’s cinder-block walls were not properly reinforced with steel rebar and large portions of the walls were not backfilled with concrete.

The National Weather Service unveiled a new training video Wednesday for storm spotters and chasers with the hopes of avoiding a repeat of the tragedy that followed the May 31, 2013 tornado near El Reno.

Mike Prendergast /

Texas and Oklahoma led the nation in the number of tornadoes last year. Oklahoma's 79 was well above the state's average of 57.

Greg Carbin, the warning coordination meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, told the Tulsa World newspaper the national total of 898 tornadoes was well below normal, which is about 1,000.

Florida, Kansas and Texas typically each have more tornadoes per year than Oklahoma. Texas had 81 last year.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Orr
Kate Carlton / KGOU/Oklahoma Tornado Project

For over a decade, Lieutenant Brian Orr of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has responded to disasters throughout the state, including both the 1999 and 2013 Moore tornadoes. He remembers each of them clearly.  

“It was very difficult to see things, and of course first arriving, hearing screams from people and just the total devastation,” Orr said.

Logan Layden talks with Kiowa historian 'Joe Fish' DuPoint about the potential impact of limestone mining on Longhorn Mountain in August 2013.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The StateImpact team traveled about 10,000 miles in 2013 to interview Oklahomans about how government policy affects their lives.

Our reporting took us to all corners of Oklahoma, across the border into Texas, and to the nation’s capital and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kim Rollins sits with some of the donated ornaments she has acquired over the past few weeks.
Kate Carlton

After any major disaster, people need food, clothing, housing and furniture.  But when you’ve lost everything you own, there are likely many more, less essential items, farther down your list.  Nearly seven months after the Moore tornado, city resident Kim Rollins seeks to fill one of those needs in time for the holiday season. 

Moore, Okla. after the tornado tore through the community May 20. The community's only hospital was destroyed in the storm.
Jamin Yeager / Aerial Oklahoma

A new temporary medical facility is open and serving patients in Moore.

Moore Medical Center opened the temporary facility at noon Monday. The temporary, modular building includes treatment rooms, a triage area, as well as X-ray, CT, ultrasound and lab services.

The city has been without a medical center since the May 20 tornado destroyed the town's hospital. The Norman Regional Hospital Authority has approved a $28.8 million new hospital, but the temporary facility will serve the community for about two years until the permanent center is built.