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.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:00 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Students Return To New Schools After 2013 Moore Tornado

10-year-old Marissa Miley returns Tuesday, August 19, to Briarwood Elementary School
Kate Carlton Greer Oklahoma Tornado Project

This week marks 15 months since a deadly tornado swept through Moore, Oklahoma, leveling two schools and taking the lives of seven children inside Plaza Towers Elementary. It’s been a long journey, but the schools finally reopen Tuesday, and the kids are excited to be back.

10-year-old Marissa Miley was finishing up third grade at Moore’s Briarwood Elementary last year when an EF-5 tornado destroyed her school.

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Oklahoma News
6:46 am
Wed August 13, 2014

New Moore Elementary School Readying For Students

Principal Patrick Chase stands in front of Paws, the school mascot, which is painted on the last remaining piece of wall that stood after a tornado destroyed Plaza Towers Elementary School.
Graham Lee Brewer Facebook

Officials with Moore Public Schools are preparing for the new school year with a newly rebuilt Plaza Towers Elementary School following the 2013 tornado that killed seven students.

Officials with the school district and Plaza Towers led a media tour of the new school on Tuesday. Plaza Towers Elementary School was destroyed by an EF5 tornado on May 20, 2013. Seven students were killed.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
6:39 am
Mon August 11, 2014

VIDEO: Tornado Survivors Share Stories Of Strength

Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma’s Writing Center was one of many groups that stepped up after last year’s devastating storms to distribute water, clothing and other necessities to those who had lost everything. Now, more than a year later, the group has launched a new program to help survivors recover. 

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Auditing The Storm: A Look At Low-Interest Disaster Loans

The Bricktown Hotel and Convention Center was approved for the largest Small Business Administration disaster loan for damage in the May 31 storms
Kate Carlton Greer Oklahoma Tornado Project

After a federally-declared disaster, the U.S. Small Business Administration issues low-interest loans to help homeowners and businesses recover. The agency disbursed over $20 million to Oklahomans following last year’s severe weather outbreak in the central part of the state, so we wanted to look into exactly what it takes to get one of those loans. 

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Auditing The Storm: Low-Interest Loans Go To Individuals, Businesses...Slowly

Scott Burkhart rebuilt his house using an SBA disaster loan after the May 20 tornado leveled his home in Moore, Okla.
Kate Carlton Greer Oklahoma Tornado Project

After a presidentially declared disaster like last year’s tornadoes in Central Oklahoma, the U.S. Small Business Administration often steps in, offering low-interest loans to help homeowners and businesses recover. But the SBA has been criticized in the past for being slow to respond. And following the 2013 storms in the Sooner State, many people still have complaints about the process.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:32 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Auditing The Storm: HUD Funds Trickle Slowly Into Oklahoma Disaster Areas

Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

In the year since a series of severe storms devastated Central Oklahoma, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded nearly $146 million to the city of Moore and the state to help with recovery. But so far, only a fraction of that has been spent, and spending the money has turned out to be harder than you’d think. 

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:00 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Auditing The Storm: Why Moore Missed Out On Mitigation Funds

Stillwater resident Hollie Schreiber received a $2,000 storm shelter rebate through the city's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program that FEMA funded following the 2013 Oklahoma tornadoes.
Credit Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

When federal aid started pouring into the state after last years’ storms, FEMA designated $4 million for hazard mitigation – a tool used to protect communities from future severe weather through things like storm shelters. But the communities you’d think might receive this kind of money sometimes don’t. 

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Auditing The Storm: Assistance Is Hit And Miss For Individuals After 2013 Tornadoes

Victims embrace amid the devastation in Moore after the May 20, 2013 tornado.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

After last year’s deadly tornadoes, private insurers paid out over $1 billion in claims. FEMA also chipped in $15 million as part of its individual and household assistance program. But nearly three-quarters of that program’s applicants were denied.

As part of our series tracking the federal aid money, we look at the decision-making process that left much of Central Oklahoma out of luck. 

On the evening of May 20th, 2013, James and Sheryl Pennington stepped outside their home in Moore to find debris everywhere. The tornado had left a devastating trail, and they weren’t exempt from its destruction. 

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The Oklahoma Tornado Project
9:45 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Auditing the Storm: Disaster 4117 - The Long Road

The Moore Medical Center immediately after the May 2013 tornados.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mark Hybers

In 2007, Oklahoma was blitzed by a series of deadly storms, including an ice storm in January that engulfed most of central and eastern Oklahoma and killed 32 people.

Nearly seven years later, three of those federally declared disasters remain on active status. A handful of projects and audits have yet to be completed.

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