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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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:59 am
Thu June 27, 2013

Public Shelter Policy in Oklahoma: Yes for Nukes, No for Natural Disasters

Oklahoma had licensed more than a half-million public shelters in the mid-'60s, like this one in a Post Office in Sapulpa.
Credit FALLSROAD / Flickr Creative Commons

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.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:02 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Why Oklahoma’s Priority Is Storm Shelters For Individuals, Not Safe Rooms For Schools

Eleven-year-old Gavin Hawkins stands near the rubble of the Plaza Tower Elementary School. His dad, Joel, rushed to the school to pick up his son before the storm hit.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Listen to the story.

Seven children were killed at an elementary school in Moore when a massive tornado tore through the area last month.

And the disaster has led to questions about why Oklahoma used previous federal disaster money to build more than 10,000 storm shelters in homes, but only 85 in public schools.

Getting the answer means going back to another major storm, on May 3rd, 1999, and another state.

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Tornado Recovery
10:48 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Moore Debris Removal: 56,550 Tons And Counting

A man stands on his house and surveys the damage after the May 20 tornado in Moore.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Moore City Manager Steve Eddy says more than 56,000 tons of debris have been removed from neighborhoods in Moore as the city reaches the one-month mark since a deadly tornado carved through the Oklahoma City suburb on May 20.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency paid for 85 percent of the cost of debris removal through Wednesday, when the share was reduced to 80 percent. The 80-20 federal-local match will continue for another 30 days. After that, the federal share of the cleanup cost will drop to the traditional 75 percent.

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