Dis­as­ter strikes again:

A mas­sive tor­na­do roared through Moore and south Okla­homa City on Mon­day after­noon, grind­ing up neigh­bor­hoods and rav­aging at least one ele­men­tary school in its path.

Ter­ror quick­ly spread as the Emer­gency Med­ical Ser­vices Author­i­ty rushed ambu­lances to Bri­ar­wood Ele­men­tary School in the Moore School Dis­trict and to sev­er­al homes, busi­ness­es and inter­sec­tions in response to reports of mul­ti­ple injuries.

Par­ents of chil­dren could be seen rush­ing toward the school, dodg­ing downed pow­er lines and scat­tered debris.

The tor­na­do, which pre­lim­i­nary data sug­gests was a Lev­el 4 storm on the Enhanced Fuji­ta (EF) scale, is said to have been two miles wide, with winds stronger than one hun­dred and sev­en­ty miles per hour. As it ripped through Moore and oth­er sub­urbs of Okla­homa City, it left a wretched trail of mas­sive dev­as­ta­tion in its wake.

The monster tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma earlier today (Image shown on KTOR's live feed and courtesy of KTOR)
The mon­ster tor­na­do that ripped through Moore, Okla­homa ear­li­er today (Image shown on KFOR’s live feed and cour­tesy of KFOR)

In addi­tion to rav­aging Bri­ar­wood Ele­men­tary School, the tor­na­do also shred­ded apart Plaza Towns Ele­men­tary School. At least sev­en­ty-five chil­dren were inside Plaza Towns at the time it was hit. The build­ing was reduced to rubble.

Thir­ty-sev­en peo­ple have been con­firmed dead by the state med­ical exam­in­er’s office. The actu­al num­ber of casu­al­ties may rise as more bod­ies are found. Sur­vivors are still being pulled out of the debris of destroyed buildings.

Those who have lived through hor­rif­ic events like Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na or Super­storm Sandy and seen their prop­er­ty wiped out can no doubt empathize with the peo­ple of Moore, who have sad­ly seen destruc­tive twisters before. (An equal­ly-fierce tor­na­do hit Moore just over four­teen years ago, in May of 1999).

Devastation as seen from the air
Dev­as­ta­tion as seen from the air (Image cour­tesy of KFOR’s live feed)

The White House said that Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma had placed a call to Okla­homa Gov­er­nor Mary Fallin to assure her that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment would pro­vide what­ev­er sup­port the state might need. Here’s a read­out of that call:

This evening the Pres­i­dent spoke with Okla­homa Gov­er­nor Mary Fallin to express his con­cern for those who have been affect­ed by the severe weath­er begin­ning last night and con­tin­u­ing today. While infor­ma­tion is still com­ing in, the Pres­i­dent made clear that his Admin­is­tra­tion, through FEMA, stands ready to pro­vide all avail­able assis­tance as the Governor’s team responds to the storm and that he has direct­ed his team to ensure that they are pro­vid­ing avail­able resources as the response unfolds. FEMA has deployed an Inci­dent Man­age­ment Assis­tance Team to the state emer­gency oper­a­tions cen­ter in Okla­homa City to sup­port state and local offi­cials on the ground and addi­tion­al per­son­nel and resources stand ready to be dis­patched as nec­es­sary. The Pres­i­dent told Gov­er­nor Fallin that the peo­ple of Okla­homa are in his and the First Lady’s thoughts and prayers and, while his team will con­tin­ue to keep him updat­ed, he urged her to be in touch direct­ly if there were addi­tion­al resources the Admin­is­tra­tion could provide.

The Red Cross has acti­vat­ed its “Safe & Well” web­site to help friends and rel­a­tives con­nect with indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies who are/were in the affect­ed area. If some­one is reg­is­tered, you’ll be able to find him or her by doing a search.

UPDATE, 6:02 PM: The death toll is now at fifty-one. More than a hun­dred and twen­ty peo­ple are being treat­ed for crit­i­cal injuries as a result of the tornado.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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