A woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School
Click to enlarge — AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
A huge tornado with winds of up to 200 miles per hour tore through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on Monday, ripping up at least two schools and leaving a wake of tangled wreckage as a dangerous storm system threatened as many as 10 U.S. states.
Television video showed tracts of homes destroyed, cars tossed about and piled atop one another, and at least one building on fire. Rescue workers were pulling third-graders from a severely damaged elementary school in Moore, a KFOR television reporter said from the scene, and aerial video showed first responders sifting through the rubble left behind…
The National Weather Service assigned the twister a preliminary ranking of EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, meaning the second most powerful category of tornado with winds up to 200 mph.
The massive twister struck at the height of tornado season, and more were forecast. On Sunday, tornadoes killed two people and injured 39 in Oklahoma.
The number of deaths continues to climb. I had to stop watching the TV reporting. Firemen at the elementary school say their work is now “search and recovery” – no longer search and rescue.
Witnesses said Monday’s tornado appeared more fierce than the giant twister that was among the dozens that tore up the region on May 3, 1999, killing more than 40 people and destroying thousands of homes. That tornado ranked as an EF5, meaning it had winds over 200 mph…
The 1999 event ranks as the third-costliest tornado in U.S. history, having caused more than $1 billion in damage at the time, or more than $1.3 billion in today’s dollars. Only the devastating Joplin and Tuscaloosa tornadoes in 2011 were more costly…
Estimates at the scene from those who experienced that 1999 tornado say the affected area was 2 or 3 times larger today. Probably 30 square miles of nothing left in one piece.
I’d like to offer a special note aside from the immediacy of this disaster. Americans who retain a traditional open heart to people in trouble always offer a helping hand. The modern exception being the cruel, heartless fools, the rightwingers in the various Tea Party cells around the country – and in Congress. You know who I mean. The kind of lowlifes who fought against providing aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy unless it was “balanced” by cutting Social Security and Medicare.
That despicable attempt was thwarted in Congress – eventually – by joint resistance from Democrats and a few traditional Republicans who haven’t forgotten how to be Americans. I’d like to note that Tom Cole is the Congressional Republican who represents the people of Moore, Oklahoma – and he was one of the few who joined with Democrats to send federal aid to survivors of that terrible superstorm.
They ain’t all sonsabitches in Washington, DC.