A two mile wide tornado devastated a suburb of Oklahoma City suburb on Monday, leveling significant sections of Moore, killing 24 people, 20 of whom were children, and injuring 230 more. The Oklahoma City medical examiner said that the death toll is expected to rise in the coming days.
Smaller tornados touched down in the area on Sunday, and a storm warning was in effect, but few could have prepared for the massive twister that ultimately descended on Moore. Photographs from the scene show what seems to be the complete demolition of neighborhoods, and the natural disaster is already being called the deadliest U.S. tornado since one killed 161 people in Joplin, Missouri. The National Weather Service has classified the Moore tornado as an EF-5, which is at the top of the scale. The tornado touched down at 2:56 pm, and traveled 20 miles in 40 minutes, and satellite photos show that it was approximately two miles wide.
Among the tragic results of the tremendous tornado was the collapse of Plaza Towers Elementary School. Two dozen children are still missing, and rescue workers are still frantically searching the rubble for survivors. Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb told CNN that the school took a direct hit from the tornado. Also in the tornado’s wake were another elementary school and a hospital, both of which were leveled. The collapse of the two schools is the primary contributor to the large number of children that were killed on Monday.
The Huffington Post reports that President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster area in Moore, and has ordered federal aid to supplement state and local efforts.
“Numerous neighborhoods were completely leveled. Neighborhoods were just wiped clean,” Sgt. Gary Knight of the Oklahoma City Police Department told the New York Times.
Monday’s storm was described as “one of the most horrific storms and disasters this state has ever faced” by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. “We will overcome. We will rebuild. We will regain our strength.”
Image Credit: AP Photo / Brennan Linsley