A suburb near Oklahoma City was ravaged by a tornado Monday that some estimates put at nearly a mile wide (some onlookers put that size at closer to two miles) and that witnesses say more closely resembled a giant black wall of destruction than a typical twister. The tornado, which struck the community of Moore, was “ripping apart homes” and devastating everything in its path, according to CNN. Entire blocks of homes were destroyed, as well as several schools. A local news station, KFOR, said it was likely the most destructive tornado ever. The National Weather Service issued a tornado emergency for the Oklahoma City area, where more tornadoes could touch down. It’s the second day in a row of severe tornadoes in Oklahoma.
A monstrous tornado at least a half-mile wide roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods with winds up to 200 mph, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. At least 37 people were reported killed.
The storm laid waste to scores of buildings in Moore, south of the city. Block after block of the community lay in ruins. Homes were crushed into piles of broken wood. Cars and trucks were left crumpled on the roadside.
The National Weather Service issued an initial finding that the tornado was an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale, the second most-powerful type of twister.
Authorities expected the death toll to rise as emergency crews moved deeper into the hardest-hit areas. At least 60 people were reported hurt, including more than a dozen children.
Rescuers mounted a desperate rescue effort at the school, pulling children from heaps of debris and carrying them to a triage center.
The same tornado that struck the city of Moore, OK ravaged not just one, but two local elementary schools, delivering a “direct hit” on Briarwood Elementary School, in particular, according to local officials. At nearby Plaza Towers Elementary School, students from grade 4-6 were moved to a nearby building before the tornado arrived and are reportedly all accounted, but grades K-3 were still in the building. As many as 75 children may have been in the school when the storm arrived. “Students were told to go into the hallways and they were literally hugging the walls; teachers laying on top of kids,” said one KFOR reporter. The station reports that the bodies of seven children have been recovered and 20-30 more children are believed to still be inside the building. Rescue teams don’t expect to find more survivors. So far, the AP reports that at least 37 are confirmed dead because of the tornado.
Google has released a map featuring shelters, storm reports, and other helpful information for tornado victims and their families.
KFOR’S @lancewest: “I bring you this news with a heavy heart.” 7 schoolkids found dead in pool of water. Approx 20-30 others feared dead.
@CBS News BREAKING NEWS: OK Chief Medical Examiner’s Office is now reporting at least 51 deaths from Moore, OK tornado.
Here are a few ways to help the tornado victims:
- The Salvation Army will have a truck at KFOR-TV taking donations starting 10 a.m. Tuesday.(Be sure to read the info at this link for info on what items are most needed.)
444 E. Britton Rd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73114
NO CLOTHES PLEASE
Donate: Text “storm” to 80888 to make a $10 donation.
Safewell.org is the Red Cross site where you can register yourself as safe, or search for friends and family members.
Other facilities open to tornado victims:
University of Oklahoma – student housing (Norman)
Oklahoma Baptist University – student housing (Shawnee)
Graceway Baptist Church, located at 1100 S.W. 104th in Oklahoma City.
Oakcrest Church of Christ at 1111 S.W. 89th Street in Moore.
Victory Church, located 4300 North MacArthur in Oklahoma City.
Journey Church in Norman I-35 and Tecumseh Road is open as a shelter.
Fifth Street Missionary Baptist Church, located at 801 N.E. 5th St. Oklahoma City.
St. Andrews Church, located at S.W. 119th and May.
Trinity Church of the Nazarene is open as an emergency shelter. It is located at 7301 S. Walker, just on the north side of I-240.