The best news this week from Moore, Okla., an Oklahoma City suburb about the size of Manhattan, is that the initial death toll from Monday’s tornado was overstated. That apparently occurred because some of the individuals killed when the massive tornado swept across Moore were counted twice. As a result 24 people were killed rather than 51, as initially reported. Nine were children.
Twenty-four deaths in a matter of minutes is nevertheless shocking. So are video images of the massive F-5 tornado — which grew to two miles wide — churning across the landscape, and images of entire neighborhoods of rubble left in its wake.
As has become the norm when deadly storms strike, Moore’s aftermath included acutely painful stories of lives lost and of parents frantically looking for a child who will never smile or run or sing again. Moore also offered stories of resourcefulness and heroism. Were it not for some elementary school teachers, more children, perhaps many more, might have been killed as their school imploded around them. Even if the surviving children’s parents’ homes were destroyed, they haven’t lost everything.
Despite the devastation, it could have been worse. Not in terms of property damage, perhaps, but in terms of lives lost. That the death toll wasn’t higher can also be attributed to advances in weather technology, including Doppler radar. Some survivors who had been watching television told of seeing the telltale “hook” detected by radar that conveyed the urgency of the situation. Residents had adequate warning, and because they live in “Tornado Alley,” most knew what to do.
Now, of course, the attention shifts to cleanup and recovery, both of which will be huge endeavors. Even with insurance coverage, state and federal assistance and private contributions from all over the country, recovery will take years. It’s sure to test the strength of Moore residents whose lives were turned upside down Monday afternoon.
Local residents who want to help are encouraged to contribute financially through the Red Cross. That can be done by calling 1-800-733-2767, emailing www.redcross.org or by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999.
Don’t doubt for a moment that your contribution, large or small, will be put to good use and greatly appreciated.