May 2013 Tornado Coverage

Deadly tornados tore through several Oklahoma communities on May 19, 20 and 31, 2013. These are the stories of natural disaster and its aftermath, and of communities healing and recovering.

A tornado touches down near Wynnewood, Oklahoma on May 9, 2016.
Hayden Mahan

The Myriad Botanical Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City is bustling with activity on a sunny day as people push strollers, walk dogs and feed the ducks. It’s a gorgeous Wednesday afternoon right now, but it’s springtime in Oklahoma, so the weather can change at any time.

“When it starts raining, is when I start looking at the messages,” Devonte Thibodeax said as walked along the garden’s waterway with Michaela Schweiger.

“If my iPhone does those alerts, where it goes off, that’s when we know something is actually happening,” Schweiger said.

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.

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

 

Tornado season is upon us. Oklahoma saw powerful storms last week, and state and local emergency management leaders continue to grapple with questions about preparation.

What else can local governments and the state do to improve public safety? Are there new ways to fund private, school or community shelters? What can individuals do beyond the obvious to protect themselves, and what does the research show?

Storm damage at a home in Piedmont after the Thanksgiving 2015 ice storm.
Mark Fox / National Weather Service

Gov. Mary Fallin announced Tuesday that President Obama and the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved Oklahoma's request for disaster assistance for 18 counties related to a winter storm that occurred in November.

The approval means federal funding is available to help with repairs and costs associated with responding to the storm, which occurred between Nov. 27 and Nov. 29.

Damage from a May 6, 2015 tornado in south Oklahoma City.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma City council approved an update to the city’s outdoor warning siren system on Tuesday that should reduce over-warnings by up to 68 percent and eliminate false warnings.

Oklahoma City has 182 warning sirens that span three counties. Currently, any National Weather Service tornado warning in Oklahoma, Cleveland or Canadian County would activate all the sirens in that county.

Under the new plan, the city is divided into nine sectors. Sirens will only be activated in the sectors that are under threat of a tornado.

Extreme Weather Hits Oklahoma Over Holiday Weekend

Nov 30, 2015

Ice, flooding and earthquakes – Oklahoma saw all three over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. As residents wait for the power lines to thaw and the floodwaters to recede, Here & Now’s Indira Lakshmanan, speaks with state climatologist Gary McManus about the extreme weather conditions, and whether this is the new normal for the state.

Heavy flooding at the intersection of Main Street and Lahoma Ave. in Norman on May 19, 2015.
Steven Anderson / Twitter

Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management have added five counties to the growing list of counties seeking federal disaster assistance for individuals and business owners who have damage from severe storms and flooding last month. 

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Oklahoma Emergency Management director Albert Ashwood meet with first responders in Purcell on May 27, 2015.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Gov. Mary Fallin and state emergency management officials are seeking federal assistance for 15 additional counties affected by recent storms and flooding. 

Fallin announced Wednesday she is requesting public assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist with reimbursing local cities and counties for debris removal, infrastructure repairs and other storm-related expenses.

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