Officials at Moore Public Schools welcomed teachers to a new school year following a devastating tornado that destroyed two schools and damaged many others.
Superintendent Robert Romines spoke to more than 1,400 Moore Public School teachers Monday morning – 84 days after a massive tornado struck the community. He says about 750 new students enrolled in Moore Public Schools during the 2013-2014 school year.
The Moore City Council has approved more than $32 million to pay for cleanup costs related to the deadly May tornado.
Moore Finance Director Jim Corbett says the city foots the bill for the cleanup costs, then is reimbursed by the state and federal government. Corbett says the city received its first payment last week from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Twenty-five people died after the EF5 tornado tore through Moore, including a 90-year-old woman who died last week after suffering a fractured skull in the twister.
The Oklahoma Medical Examiner has increased the toll from the May 20 tornado at Moore after the death of a 90-year-old woman critically injured in the storm. Spokeswoman Amy Elliott said today that the death of Kathryn Begay pushed the death toll to 25. Begay's home in the town of Moore was destroyed and she suffered a fractured skull. Officials say she suffered a pair of strokes after the storm and died last Thursday. A tornado that struck El Reno on May 31 killed 22 people, including 14 adults and eight children. Many victims drowned due to heavy rain from that storm.
Editor's Note: This is part one in StateImpact Oklahoma's "Twister Truths" series where we use data to kick the tires on the conventional wisdom underlying severe weather policy in Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma, state and local emergency authorities emphasize individual shelters in peoples’ homes over communal shelters in schools or other civic buildings. As we reported here, almost all the federal disaster funding the state receives has been directed to rebates for the construction of residential shelters and safe rooms.
Since the deadly tornadoes that struck the state this spring, StateImpact has been taking a look at Oklahoma’s severe weather policy, and asking questions like: Why aren’t there more safe rooms in schools?
More than 10,000 individual tornado shelters have been built in Oklahoma since 1999 with the help of a state rebate program that provides up to $2,000 toward the cost of installing safe rooms in homes or underground.
So it seems the state is doing a lot to make taking shelter simpler and more affordable.
Of the many ideas for changes to state policy following May’s deadly tornado outbreak —changing building codes to make public structures safer, requiring shelters in new school buildings, providing money to upgrade schools without shelters — the one that has the best chance of actually happening is ‘tornado days.’
Local superintendents don’t need any approval to cancel school in the winter— or spring, when sunny weather can quickly turn violent.
The Moore City Council has tabled a proposal that would have required storm shelters for houses, apartments, mobile homes and group residential housing.
Also Monday, the council delayed voting on a measure that would have required bolting and fastening to strengthen homes against tornadoes. The Norman Transcript reports Mayor Glenn Lewis says the city will meet with local builders before moving forward with the ordinances.
In the 1960s, survey teams of architects and engineers started hunting across Oklahoma for places to hunker down.
They found basements and tunnels, underground parking garages and well-built structures in municipal and private buildings.
At the time, Oklahoma’s big worry was an attack from Soviet Russia. That threat never materialized, but the state is targeted by tornadoes every year. And public shelter spaces are disappearing from the map.