One of the first reporters on the scene May 20 after a massive tornado struck the town of Moore, Okla., didn’t mean to be there. Joe Wertz, digital reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma, was trying to get home.
Wertz, working out of KGOU-FM on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, and other station employees heeded storm warnings May 20 by leaving work early. Wertz lives in Oklahoma City about 20 miles north of Norman, and hoped to beat the storm home.
Mynor Sanchez, a resident of Moore, Okla., lives a few blocks away and three houses down from major destruction. He is volunteering Friday in the neighborhood with his church, Templo El Alabanza, trying to do any tasks with which residents need help.
Credit Katie Hayes Luke for NPR
Eli and Maria Sanchez with their daughter, Kaylee, 6 at their home in Moore, Okla., on Friday.
Pastor Chano Najera calls out T-shirt sizes in Spanglish to volunteers waiting for their uniforms.
It's easy to spot Najera in this crowd — just look for the cowboy hat. He preaches in Spanish at Templo De Alabanza in Oklahoma City. On this morning, though, he's wrangling a group of young Latino volunteers as they wheel cases of water bottles onto trucks headed for Moore, Okla., where an EF-5 tornado ripped through neighborhoods last week, but spared Najera's home.
OG&E reports that it expects to have power restored Sunday, May 26, to those customers in tornado damaged areas that are able to accept electric service. However, customers in the Moore, Norman and south Oklahoma City area may experience temporary outages during the next several days as the company works to replace temporary repairs with permanent ones.
A prayer service entitled, “Oklahoma Strong: Coming Together in Faith,” will be held Sunday, May 26,for the victims of the May tornadoes in Oklahoma. It will be a music and worship service designed to promote healing for the Oklahoma community.
The service will take place at the First Baptist Church in Moore, Oklahoma, located at 301 NE 27th St, Moore, OK. The service begins at 6 PM central.
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.
An army of insurance adjusters from across the country started to descend on Moore less 24 hours after Monday’s storm, and by Wednesday morning, a long line of them had formed outside the First Baptist Church.
Many were already in the area because of hail and tornados from earlier storms, and now they’re in destroyed neighborhoods assessing damage house by house.
Many school safe rooms, like this one inside Jeffries Elementary in Springfield, Mo., also serve as gymnasiums. Constructed with a $1.6 million grant from FEMA, which covered 75 percent of the cost, the shelter can hold more than 500 people — enough to accommodate all the school's students and employees.