Skip to main content

Oklahoma tornado: Latest developments in this disaster

By CNN Staff
May 22, 2013 -- Updated 1044 GMT (1844 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • At its strongest, the tornado was an EF5, the National Weather Service says
  • At least 24 dead, more than 100 people rescued after tornado hit, officials say
  • Insurance claims will likely top $1 billion, state insurance official says
  • The mayor says "we (have) gone from rescue and searching to recovery"

(CNN) -- At least 24 people -- including nine children -- were killed when a massive tornado struck an area outside Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon, officials said.

Read more: Heartbreaking scenes in Oklahoma City after disaster

At least seven of those children were killed at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, police said. Emergency personnel on Tuesday continued to scour the school's rubble -- a scene of twisted I-beams and crumbled cinder blocks.

Ja\'Nae Hornsby, 9, is among the children killed at the school, her father says.
Ja'Nae Hornsby, 9, is among the children killed at the school, her father says.

The tornado was 1.3 miles wide as it moved through Moore, in the southern part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, the National Weather Service said. The estimated peak wind ranged from 200 to 210 mph -- which would make it an EF5, the most powerful category of tornadoes possible -- according to the agency.

Click here for our latest full story.

Latest update:

-- About 2,400 homes were damaged in the Oklahoma cities of Moore and Oklahoma City, said Jerry Lojka of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Some 10,000 people were directly impacted by the tornado, he said.

Follow the severe weather tracker

A message is left by a homeowner who lost his home in the May 20 tornado on Monday, May 27, in Moore, Oklahoma. View more photos of the aftermath in the region and another gallery of aerial shots of the damage. A message is left by a homeowner who lost his home in the May 20 tornado on Monday, May 27, in Moore, Oklahoma. View more photos of the aftermath in the region and another gallery of aerial shots of the damage.
Deadly tornado hits Oklahoma City area
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Deadly tornado hits Oklahoma Photos: Deadly tornado hits Oklahoma
Tornado hits Moore Medical Center
Disaster from the sky in Oklahoma
Haunting footage from storm chasers

Previously reported:

-- Gov. Mary Fallin said the tornado was "one of (the) most horrific storms and disasters that this state has ever faced." Oklahoma "will get through this. ... We will overcome. We will rebuild. We will regain our strength," she said.

-- Officials are working on legislation for an emergency fund that would help the state's recovery.

-- Insurance claims will likely top $1 billion, Kelly Collins of the Oklahoma Insurance Commission told CNN. The cost would be higher than that from the May 3, 1999, tornado that hit the same area.

-- Moore Fire Chief Gary Bird said searchers planned to search every affected structure and vehicle three times by Tuesday night.

An aerial view of the destruction caused by the massive tornado that struck areas south of Oklahoma City on Monday, May 20, shows the magnitude of damage left in its path. The storm's winds topped 200 mph as it carved a 17-mile path of destruction through Oklahoma City suburbs. On Tuesday, May 21, CNN sent photographer David McNeese to capture the story from above: An aerial view of the destruction caused by the massive tornado that struck areas south of Oklahoma City on Monday, May 20, shows the magnitude of damage left in its path. The storm's winds topped 200 mph as it carved a 17-mile path of destruction through Oklahoma City suburbs. On Tuesday, May 21, CNN sent photographer David McNeese to capture the story from above:
The path of destruction from above
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
>
>>
Photos: Destruction from above Photos: Destruction from above

A few hours later, Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis told CNN that he doesn't expect the death toll will rise past 24, saying, "I think that will stand."

"We feel like we have basically gone from rescue and searching to recovery," Lewis said.

-- Mick Cornett, Oklahoma City mayor, said full electric service should be restored to the Draper Water Treatment Plant on Tuesday. Customers should eventually notice normal water pressure, he said. The storm knocked out power to the plant and authorities put the facility on generator power.

-- Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will travel to Oklahoma on Wednesday to meet with state and local officials and "ensure that first responders are receiving the assistance they need in ongoing response and recovery efforts to the severe weather that impacted the region, " DHS announced. Napolitano also will travel to Joplin for the second anniversary of the devastating tornado that struck that community.

-- Kevin Durant, star of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, pledged $1 million through his family foundation to American Red Cross disaster relief efforts in Oklahoma, the Red Cross said Tuesday.

-- The tornado tore through a 17-mile path, the National Weather Service said. The agency said survey crews indicated that the twister began 4.4 miles west of the city of Newcastle and ended 4.8 miles east of the city of Moore.

-- At least 237 people were injured, the state's Office of Emergency Management said Tuesday, citing the Health Department.

-- Oklahoma officials revised the death toll to 24, down from 51. Nine of the fatalities are children.

-- One of those is Janae Hornsby, who was among those killed at Plaza Woods Elementary School, her father told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "She was the best kid anybody could have. She was Janae," Joshua Hornsby said. "She was a ball of energy, a ball of love."

-- State Rep. Mark McBride, a Republican, said he and his family have endured tornadoes for decades but "this is the worst thing" he's ever seen.

-- President Barack Obama said he doesn't yet know the "full extent" of the damage. "We don't know both the human and economic losses that may have occurred," he said Tuesday. "Oklahoma needs to get everything it needs right away" to recover, he said.

-- New York's governor expressed his sympathy for Oklahomans in the aftermath of the "horrific tornado." "Here in New York we know firsthand the devastation and pain caused by natural disasters, and in difficult times like these we, more than ever, stand with our fellow Americans," Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

-- The storm system behind Monday's twister and several on Sunday is threatening a large swath of the United States on Tuesday, putting 53 million people at risk of severe weather. In the bull's-eye Tuesday are parts of north-central Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, and northern Arkansas and Louisiana, according to the National Weather Service.

-- Oklahoma first and foremost needs donations to rebuild, Fallin told CNN.

Rescuers search through rubble in Shawnee, Oklahoma, on Monday, May 20. A tornado outbreak hit in the Midwest and Plains on Sunday and Monday, the deadliest hitting Moore, Oklahoma, on Monday. Rescuers search through rubble in Shawnee, Oklahoma, on Monday, May 20. A tornado outbreak hit in the Midwest and Plains on Sunday and Monday, the deadliest hitting Moore, Oklahoma, on Monday.
Tornadoes wreak havoc in Midwest
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
>
>>
Photos: Tornadoes strike Midwest Photos: Tornadoes strike Midwest
Man found neighbor trapped after tornado
Residents survey damage, count blessings

-- About 34,000 customers remained without power Tuesday night after a powerful tornado slammed the Oklahoma City region

-- Personnel have rescued 101 people from rubble, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management representative Terri Watkins said Tuesday morning. Watkins cited an Oklahoma Highway Patrol tally of rescues from all agencies.

-- Some of the children killed at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, drowned in a basement area there, Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb told CNN on Tuesday morning. "My understanding, this school ... Plaza Towers, they had a basement. Quite frankly, don't mean to be graphic, but that's why some of the children drowned, because they were in the basement area," he said. Officials have said the storm killed at least seven children at the school.

-- Obama signed a disaster declaration Monday night, a White House statement said. The declaration means federal emergency aid will supplement local recovery efforts.

-- World leaders, including those in France, Germany, Pakistan and Spain, passed along their condolences. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II expressed her "deepest sympathies" to those affected and Pope Francis urged people to pray for families of those who've died, "especially those who lost young children."

-- The three high schools in the school district of Moore still will have graduation ceremonies on Saturday at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Superintendent Susan Pierce said Tuesday.

-- Otherwise, though, the city's public schools will be closed for the rest of the year, school district spokeswoman Anna Trowbridge tells CNN. The last day of school was supposed to be Thursday.

-- The superintendent of schools in Joplin, Missouri -- which was struck by a tornado in 2011 -- is expected to fly to Oklahoma on Tuesday night, said Oklahoma education department spokeswoman Sherry Fair.

Joplin's C.J. Huff is set to discuss the situation in Moore with the Oklahoma education chief Janet Baresi, on Wednesday.

-- Country singer Toby Keith said his sister's house was among those hit by Monday's tornado. "She gets to keep her stuff, but her house is not livable," Keith said.

While there's no date, lineup or location set, Keith says he's gotten "500 text messages from people all over the music world" asking about a potential benefit concert.

Tornado brings back terrible memories of 1999

Heartbreaking scenes in Oklahoma City area after twister

CNN's Joe Sterling, Greg Botelho and AnneClaire Stapleton contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Oklahoma City Tornadoes
May 20, 2014 -- Updated 1730 GMT (0130 HKT)
Max Broderick remembers exactly what he did a year ago Tuesday.
June 3, 2013 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
Heavy storms and tornadoes once again ripped through the Midwest. Already devastated areas of Oklahoma were hit again, and this time the damage spread to neighboring states. Here's how you can help.
May 30, 2013 -- Updated 1530 GMT (2330 HKT)
Families share memories and snapshots of those we lost in the Oklahoma tornado devastation.
June 5, 2013 -- Updated 1711 GMT (0111 HKT)
The Oklahoma medical examiner's office says 18 people in that state were killed in the storms. The office has released the names of 11.
June 4, 2013 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
They chased tornadoes not so much for the thrill, but in the hope that their research might help people avoid the fate to which they succumbed last week.
June 4, 2013 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
A menacing tornado churned behind Mike Eilts as the storm chaser's truck sped away.
May 27, 2013 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
Why do people in Tornado Alley keep rebuilding and staying in place after storms rip through? People from Moore share their reasons why.
May 27, 2013 -- Updated 2107 GMT (0507 HKT)
See the best images from the deadly storm.
May 22, 2013 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
It's one of the most familiar pieces of advice from authorities to people in the path of a tornado: Get into your basement.
May 23, 2013 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
On Sunday, a mystery photograph fluttered from the sky and landed near Leslie Hagelberg's mailbox in West Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The tornado spanned 1.3 miles -- the length of more than 22 football fields lined up end-to-end -- carved a 17-mile path of destruction.
May 22, 2013 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Second-grade teacher Tammy Glasgow walks around what's left of Briarwood Elementary, struggling to pick out of its wreckage the things that once made a school.
May 22, 2013 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
It was the end of the school day. The kids at Plaza Towers Elementary School were stuffing their backpacks, looking forward to going home, playing with friends, eating snacks.
April 27, 2014 -- Updated 1531 GMT (2331 HKT)
The "Tri-State Tornado" killed 695 people and injured 2,027, traveling more than 300 miles.
See the path of the tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma.
ADVERTISEMENT