Tornadoes test our resolve

home damaged by tornado

Near the edge of the tornado’s path of destruction, this home is destroyed while the two next to it remain mostly intact.

Sunday and Monday, May 19 and 20 resulted in multiple tornadoes killing a total of 26 people, injuring hundreds more, and destroying thousands of homes and businesses. It may prove to have been more destructive than the May 3, 1999 tornado which followed a very similar path. The fact that Monday’s death toll was half that of the 1999 tornado speaks to Oklahoma’s improvement in taking cover from these storms, as well as significant advances in technology allowing these storms to be precisely tracked. This has led to more warning time ahead of these tornadoes.

View the Standard Excellence Photo Blog of the storms and recovery effort.

The National Weather Service rated Monday’s tornado as an EF-5, with a width of two miles at some points as it tracked 17 miles across the ground.

Private industry leads in recovery effort

Immediately following the mid-afternoon storms, private citizens and local organizations were donating their money, supplies, and time to help start the recovery effort after the storms.

A day before FEMA set foot on the scene in Moore, local businesses, churches, and individual citizens were picking apart the rubble, searching for and saving human lives. Initial reports indicated 51 fatalities had occurred, but by noon Tuesday, this number had been reduced to 24, where it has stayed since.

FOX News reports, “Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said Sunday her message to Obama is that she appreciates the visit, but the state also needs quick action from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Republican governor said so far, the agency has done a great job of speeding relief and cash assistance to affected families, but she’s concerned about the long run.
“There’s going to come a time when there’s going to be a tremendous amount of need once we begin the debris clearing, which we already have, but really get it cleared off to where we need to start rebuilding these homes, rebuilding these businesses,” she said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And we know at different times in the past, money hasn’t come always as quickly as it should.”

FEMA’s role is to support citizens and first responders in disaster situations like that in Moore, Oklahoma. This is done through immediate physical labor, and continues with financial support to those affected as well as coordinating the efforts of multiple agencies, both local and federal.

Gun rights not a problem

The Tulsa World newspaper has noted that instead of becoming a huge issue, resulting in higher crime and gun crime rates, allowing law-abiding citizens to openly display their firearms has not presented any challenges to law enforcement departments at all.