Oklahoma Mayor Wants To Require Tornado Shelters

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The mayor of the Oklahoma City suburb battered by a monstrous tornado says he is pushing to require safe-room shelters in all new homes.

Glen Lewis said Wednesday he will propose an ordinance in the next couple of days at the Moore City Council that would modify building codes to require the construction of reinforced shelters in every new home in the town of 56,000.

The suburb was also hit by a massive tornado in 1999 that followed nearly the same path as the storm Monday that killed at least 24 people.

Lewis says he is confident he'll get the four votes needed on the six-member council. The measure could be in force within months.

Underground safe rooms are typically built below garages and can cost around $4,000.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Many of the residents of Moore, Okla., have begun the process of assessing what's left of their homes and possessions and what comes next.

Some neighborhoods were left flattened by the twister that stretched some 1.3 miles wide at points.

And it was the fourth tornado to hit Moore since 1998. Monday's twister killed at least 24 people.

The fire chief in Moore says he's confident there are no more bodies or survivors buried in rubble left by Monday's powerful twister.

Rescue workers say they've tried searching each damaged building three times, but the search is being hampered by heavy rain.

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The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Moore, Okla., was a top-of-the-scale EF-5 twister with winds of at least 200 mph.

Spokeswoman Keli Pirtle said Tuesday the agency upgraded the tornado from an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale to an EF-5 based on what a damage assessment team saw on the ground. The weather service uses the word "incredible" to describe the power of EF-5 storms.

The weather service says the tornado's path was 17 miles long and 1.3 miles wide.

Pirtle says Monday's twister is the first EF-5 tornado of 2013.

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Gov. Mary Fallin says an Oklahoma suburb that was devastated by a deadly tornado will be rebuilt.

At least 24 people, including nine children, were killed in the massive tornado that flattened homes and a school in Moore, Okla., on Monday afternoon.

Fallin told a Tuesday news conference that she doesn't know how many people are still missing following the tornado.

She says: "We will rebuild and we will regain our strength."

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The state medical examiner's office has revised the death toll from a tornado in an Oklahoma City suburb to 24 people, including seven children.

Spokeswoman Amy Elliot said Tuesday morning that she believes some victims were counted twice in the early chaos of the storm. Authorities said initially that as many as 51 people were dead, including 20 children.

Teams are continuing to search the rubble in Moore, 10 miles south of Oklahoma City, after the Monday afternoon tornado.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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The death toll now stands at 91 in the wake of a monster tornado that devastated parts of suburban Oklahoma City. That figure is being reported by KFOR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City.

Officials say some of the dead are children, and that the toll is expected to rise. More than 120 people are being treated at hospitals, including about 70 children.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says "hearts are broken" for parents wondering about the fate of their children.

Authorities say search and rescue efforts are continuing.

Fallin says her state will spare no resource in the tornado recovery, and will consider using Oklahoma's rainy day fund in the effort.

President Barack Obama has called Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to express his concern about a monstrous tornado that wreaked havoc in the Oklahoma City suburbs.

The White House says Obama told the governor that he's directed the government and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide any assistance she needs. FEMA has sent a special team to Oklahoma's emergency operations center to help out and dispatch resources.

Obama also told Fallin to contact him directly if the federal government can provide additional help.

The White House says Obama's homeland security team is keeping him updated on the situation.

The tornado flattened entire neighborhoods in the southern suburb of Moore with winds up to 200 mph, leaving buildings on fire and landing a direct blow to an elementary school.


(NBC News) A monster tornado packing winds as strong as 200 mph roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, pulverizing block after block of homes and demolishing the walls of an elementary school. At least 51 people were killed, the Oklahoma City medical examiner said.

Crews were frantically searching an estimated 30 square miles of wreckage and only beginning to get a sense of the destruction. Hospitals reported several dozen injured.

“The whole city looks like a debris field,” said Mayor Glenn Lewis of the city of Moore, which appeared to be hardest hit.

At Plaza Towers Elementary School, the tornado tore the roof off, and authorities kept hysterical parents back because it was too loud to hear screams for help. It was not clear how many children were inside. A teacher told NBC affiliate KFOR that she draped herself on top of six children in a bathroom to shelter them.
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More than two hours after the tornado struck, several children were pulled out alive.

NBC's Brian Williams and NBC's Al Roker report on the aftermath of a tornado, which is believed to have been up to a mile wide, and left a huge path of destruction as it cut across Moore, Oklahoma.

A reporter for KFOR said the twister kicked up a cloud of debris perhaps two miles wide. The National Weather Service initially classified the storm as an EF4, the second-strongest type, with winds of 166 to 200 mph.

“It seems that our worst fears have happened today,” said Bill Bunting, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Norman, Okla.

The tornado struck at mid-afternoon and tore a 20-mile path, said Rick Smith, another weather service meteorologist. He said it was on the ground for 40 minutes. Much of the storm’s rampage was captured on live television, perhaps alerting people in its path to seek shelter.

A shirtless man walked in a daze through the ruins of a horse farm that was obliterated.

“I lost everything,” he said. “We might have one horse left out of all of them.”

Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokeswoman Betsy Randolph said 200 people with minor injuries were being treated at a triage center. “Some are more grotesque,” she said of the injuries.

“We do have hope,” she added. Randolph told KFOR she did not know about deaths but said: “Just being down here and seeing the rubble and the devastation, I can’t imagine that we won’t have any, but I pray God that we won’t.”

President Barack Obama said he had spoken with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and pledged the full help of the federal government. The Red Cross said it was opening a shelter, and the University of Oklahoma opened some of its housing for displaced families.

An aerial view of some of the destruction caused by Monday's tornado.

In addition to Plaza Towers, Briarwood Elementary School in Oklahoma was heavily damaged, KFOR reported.

Search and rescue teams converged on a staging area at the Warren Theater, which was also damaged, as the tornado churned toward other Oklahoma towns. The storms were expected to continue through the evening.

The tornado’s ferocity was reminiscent of a 1999 outbreak in Oklahoma and Kansas that registered wind speeds of more than 300 mph, left 46 dead and damaged or destroyed more than 8,000 homes.

It also came one day after another cluster of storms in Oklahoma that killed two elderly men in the town of Shawnee. Tens of millions of people from Texas to the Great Lakes — an area covering 55 million people — had been warned to brace for more severe weather Monday.

The Sunday storms destroyed mobile homes, flipped trucks and sent people across 100 miles running for cover. In Kansas, a weather forecaster was forced off the air as a tornado bore down on his station.

“You can see where there’s absolutely nothing, then there are places where you have mobile home frames on top of each other, debris piled up,” Mike Booth, the sheriff of Pottawatomie County, Okla., told The Associated Press. “It looks like there’s been heavy equipment in there on a demolition tour.”

Fallin declared a state of emergency for 16 counties. In Edmond, Randy Grau said he looked out a window and saw what he thought was a flock of birds heading down the street.


Authorities say an elementary school in an Oklahoma City suburb took a direct hit from a mile-wide tornado.

Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department says there is no word of injuries from the elementary school. Knight says the school suffered "extensive damage" on Monday afternoon.

Neighborhoods in Moore, Okla., are flattened and buildings are on fire. Television footage on Monday afternoon showed homes and buildings that had been reduced to rubble in the city south of Oklahoma City. Footage also showed vehicles littering roadways south and southwest of Oklahoma City.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The suburb of Moore was hit hard by a tornado in 1999. The storm had the highest winds ever recorded near the earth's surface.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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A mile-wide tornado chewing through the Oklahoma City area has reduced neighborhoods to rubble and left cars and trucks crumpled on the sides of highways.

Television video left piles of debris where homes used to be near Moore, Okla., and vehicles littering roadways south and southwest of Oklahoma City.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The suburb of Moore, where Monday's damage was concentrated, was hit hard by a tornado in 1999 that included the highest winds ever recorded near the earth's surface.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)