The Edmond Sun

May 20, 2013

UPDATE: At least 51 killed by tornado in Moore

By James Coburn and Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — UPDATE AS OF 8:30 P.M.:

Gov. Mary Fallin said President Barack Obama has called her this afternoon to offer his condolences to the state and gave a promise of aid. The governor also said she has requested emergency response aid from other states to help in search and rescue/recovery efforts.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office stated the official death toll is now at 51 fatalities. More fatalities could be reported before the evening is out as rescuers continue to check homes with shelters that were in the path of Monday afternoon's tornado. A preliminary search has been conducted from Interstate 44 into areas of Oklahoma City.

Jim Wynn of EMSA says they have transported up to 100 patients to area hospitals at this point.

The situation in Moore remains extremely dangerous due to downed power lines, ruptured gas lines and hazards from such a large amount of debris. Officials are not allowing residents back into damaged areas yet this evening due to these hazards.

The American Red Cross has opened a shelter at St. Andrews Church, S.W. 119th St. and South May Avenu in Moore. The City of Oklahoma City also is using this as a reunification locaiton, according to the Red Cross. The National Red Cross will mobilize at least 20 response vehicles for distributing food and relief items by morning.

OU Medical Center is reporting that is has received 20 adults and 65 children for care in its Level 1 Trauma Center as well as at nearby Children's Hospital. All personnel have been called in to respond to the situation and OU Medical Center-Edmond is poised to receive any additional patients through the evening. For those who have been taken to OU Medical Center or Children's, a family information center has been set up at The Vose Auditorium at OU Medical Center, N.E. 13th St. and Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City.

All state and interstate highways are now open, the OHP reports.

UPDATE AS OF 7:35 P.M.:

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office is reporting there are 37 confirmed fatalities from Monday's tornado in Moore. Officials expect the death toll to continue to rise. The May 3, 1999, tornado saw 48 total fatalities in a swath of destruction that was similar to the path taken by Monday's storm.

Officials are asking Oklahomans to stay home and out of the city of Moore in order to maintain safety and security. The Oklahoma National Guard is already on scene to help with manpower needs.

Those who are still looking for loved ones, may go to the American Red Cross website at www.safeandwell.org to connect with family and friends.

Two elementary schools were hit by the tornado. Plaza Towers Elementary has seen several children rescued from the rubble, but the number of injured and fatalities is not known yet. Various reports state that all children from Briarwood Elementary in Oklahoma City were accounted for after the storm.

 

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UPDATE AS OF 6:14 P.M.:

A large tornado ripped out sections of Moore Monday afternoon leaving a path of destruction of wrecked homes and businesses, according to the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management. It was unclear by late Monday afternoon how many fatalities will be attributed to the powerful tornado.

At 1:10 p.m., the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch that included Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma County, Cleveland and Grady counties in central Oklahoma. At 2:40 p.m., a tornado warning was issued for south Oklahoma City. Metro meteorologists tracked the storm as it passed through Moore.

Reports included children being trapped at an elementary school, downed power lines and confusion. The tornado plowed through a school’s gymnasium, but all children were accounted for, according to various reports.

“This has just been devastating and a horrible reminder of the May 3rd tornados. My staff and I stand ready to offer full support to any school districts that have experienced injuries or damages from these terrible tornados,” State Superintendent Janet Barresi said.

“Right now we are waiting for word of exactly what has happened at Briarwood Elementary School in Moore as well as pulling together information about school districts that may have suffered damage yesterday in Carney, Bethel, Dale, Little Axe, Shawnee and other areas. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected by these deadly tornados,” she said.

Cars were reported smashed on Interstate 35 near the Warren Theater in Moore.

The Oklahoma chapter of the American Red Cross has released a web address for those who want to check on loved ones: www.safeandwell.org.

Both lanes of Interstate 35 remain closed in the Moore area between I-240 and Indian Hills Road. They were closed at 3:15 p.m. Monday. H.E. Bailey Turnpike at Milemarker 107 northbound remains closed Monday and the Norman spur also was shut down, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Oklahoma Police are asking motorists to avoid the area between Western and Santa Fe in Moore from Southwest 134th Street to Southwest 164th Street.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said the agency is asking everyone to stay out of the tornado affected area between Southwest 164th and Southwest 134th and Western Avenue to Santa Fe Avenue to allow for the emergency units to enter into the area. 

“This area sustained heavy damage and several people are still trapped underneath the debris,” Nelson said. “Live powerlines and open gas lines pose a serious danger to everyone in the affected area. Please stay out of the area for your safety and the safety of those in need of assistance.”

The tornado is reported to have taken a 30-mile path similar to that of the May 3, 1999, tornado that also ravaged the area.

The May 3, 1999, tornado resulted in 48 deaths with winds in excess of 300 mph and causing $1.1 billion in damage. The May 3, 1999, tornado touched down in Chickasha, roared through south Oklahoma City, Del City and Tinker Air Force base before ending in Midwest City.

Oklahoma County Chief Deputy Rick Buchanan said Oklahoma County road crews have been asked to provide assistance to Cleveland County to help with efforts related to the devastating tornado. All three Commissioner District road crews are providing available equipment to Cleveland County, Buchanan said.

“Our hearts and prayers are with all those affected, including media outlets helping to get out the message to our local communities, state and nation,” he said.

At about 5 p.m., Edmond was sending 12 officers including a K-9 team to join detectives and another K-9 officer assisting with search and rescue efforts in Moore, said Jenny Monroe, Edmond Police Department spokeswoman.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office was sending members of its Fast Acting Support Team and other personnel to assist the Oklahoma Highway Patrol in Moore, according to a post on the agency’s Facebook page.

Severe weather will be possible again on Tuesday, mainly across the southeast half of Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service. Isolated storms will be possible each day from Wednesday through Friday. Storms are not currently expected on Saturday and Sunday.

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UPDATE AS OF 5:46 P.M.:

A large tornado ripped out sections of Moore Monday afternoon leaving a path of destruction of wrecked homes and businesses, according to the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management. It was unclear by late Monday afternoon how many fatalities will be attributed to the powerful tornado.

At 1:10 p.m., the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch that included Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma County, Cleveland and Grady counties in central Oklahoma. At 2:40 p.m., a tornado warning was issued for south Oklahoma City. Metro meteorologists tracked the storm as it passed through Moore.

Reports included children being trapped at an elementary school, downed power lines and confusion. The tornado plowed through a school’s gymnasium, but all children were accounted for, according to various reports.

Cars were reported smashed on Interstate 35 near the Warren Theater in Moore.

The Oklahoma chapter of the American Red Cross has released a web address for those who want to check on loved ones: www.safeandwell.org.

Both lanes of Interstate 35 remain closed in the Moore area between I-240 and Indian Hills Road. They were closed at 3:15 p.m. Monday. H.E. Bailey Turnpike at Milemarker 107 northbound remains closed Monday and the Norman spur also was shut down, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Oklahoma Police are asking motorists to avoid the area between Western and Santa Fe in Moore from Southwest 134th Street to Southwest 164th Street.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said the agency is asking everyone to stay out of the tornado affected area between Southwest 164th and Southwest 134th and Western Avenue to Santa Fe Avenue to allow for the emergency units to enter into the area. 

“This area sustained heavy damage and several people are still trapped underneath the debris,” Nelson said. “Live powerlines and open gas lines pose a serious danger to everyone in the affected area. Please stay out of the area for your safety and the safety of those in need of assistance.”

The tornado is reported to have taken a 30-mile path similar to that of the May 3, 1999, tornado that also ravaged the area.

The May 3, 1999, tornado resulted in 48 deaths with winds in excess of 300 mph and causing $1.1 billion in damage. The May 3, 1999, tornado touched down in Chickasha, roared through south Oklahoma City, Del City and Tinker Air Force base before ending in Midwest City.

Oklahoma County Chief Deputy Rick Buchanan said Oklahoma County road crews have been asked to provide assistance to Cleveland County to help with efforts related to the devastating tornado. All three Commissioner District road crews are providing available equipment to Cleveland County, Buchanan said.

“Our hearts and prayers are with all those affected, including media outlets helping to get out the message to our local communities, state and nation,” he said.

At about 5 p.m., Edmond was sending 12 officers including a K-9 team to join detectives and another K-9 officer assisting with search and rescue efforts in Moore, said Jenny Monroe, Edmond Police Department spokeswoman.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office was sending members of its Fast Acting Support Team and other personnel to assist the Oklahoma Highway Patrol in Moore, according to a post on the agency’s Facebook page.

Severe weather will be possible again on Tuesday, mainly across the southeast half of Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service. Isolated storms will be possible each day from Wednesday through Friday. Storms are not currently expected on Saturday and Sunday.

 

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A large tornado ripped out sections of Moore Monday afternoon leaving a path of destruction of wrecked homes and businesses, according to the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management.

Reports included the possibility of children being trapped at an elementary school, downed power lines and confusion. The tornado plowed through a school’s gymnasium. Children were reported standing outside the school underneath an awning.

Cars were reported smashed on Interstate 35 near the Warren Theater in Moore.

Volunteer Ann Lee said at 3:40 p.m. that there were reports that the tornado was dissipating.

Oklahoma Police are asking motorists to avoid the area between Western and Santa Fe in Moore from Southwest 134th Street to Southwest 164th Street.