Update: Funerals Start Thursday For Tornado Victims - WSPA.com

Update: Funerals Start Thursday For Tornado Victims

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MOORE, Okla. -


First Funeral Thursday For Oklahoma Tornado Victims

May 23, 2013

The first of the funerals is scheduled today following the deadly tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.

It will be for 9-year-old Antonia Candelaria, one of seven children who died at a destroyed elementary school.

Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis says he'll propose an ordinance to require all new homes to have storm shelters. President Barack Obama travels to Moore on Sunday.


The Oklahoma medical examiner's office says it has positively identified all 24 people killed in the tornado that ripped through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, including 10 children:

- Sydney Angle, 9

- Hemant Bhonde, 65

- Richard Brown, 41

- Antonia Candelaria, 9

- Emily Conatzer, 9

- Kyle Davis, 8

- Case Futrell, 4 months

- Megan Futrell, 29

- JaNae Hornsby, 9

- Leslie Johnson, 46

- Rick Jones, 54

- Christopher Legg, 9

- Terri Long, 49

- Nicolas McCabe, 9

- Jenny Neely, 38

- Cindy Plumley, 45

- Shannon Quick, 40

- Tewauna Robinson, 45

- William Sass, 63

- Randy Smith, 39

- Gina Stromski, 51

- Karrina Vargyas, 4

- Sydnee Vargyas, 7 months

- Deanna Ward, 70



Assessing the damage

Officials say the tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, on Monday may have created $2 billion or more in damage.

The powerful twister killed 24 people, including 10 children, and tore through as many as 13,000 homes, schools and a hospital.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett says early estimates put losses at between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.

But the Oklahoma Insurance Department says the loss could be much more.


Official: 6 Unaccounted For After Oklahoma Tornado
May 22, 2013 at 2:31 p.m.

An Oklahoma emergency management official says authorities still are working to find six adults who haven't been accounted for since the devastating tornado that tore through the Oklahoma City area earlier this week.

Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood said it wasn't known Wednesday whether those people had just "walked off" their properties or could still be found in the rubble.

Officials say the tornado that hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on Monday killed 24 people, including 10 children.

Moore, OK Mayor Calls For More Storm Shelters, Safe Room
May 22, 2013 at 10:04 a.m.

The mayor of tornado-ravaged Moore, Oklahoma says he'll try to get an ordinance passed requiring storm shelters or safe rooms in new housing projects.

"I have six councilmen and I need four votes to get it passed," Mayor Glenn Lewis told CNN Wednesday.

The mammoth EF5 tornado hit the town Monday, killing 24 people, including 9 children, and wrecking 2,400 homes.

Very few residents had access to a storm shelter.

"Probably less than one tenth of one percent" of the houses in Moore are built with basements, said Mike Hancock, president of Basement Contractors in Edmond, Oklahoma.

But Hancock and other experts say affordable shelters are feasible.

An above-ground shelter runs $8,000 to $10,000; a small basement would cost $15,000 to $20,000; and a concrete cellar built during new-house construction would cost as little as $2,200, said Mike Barnett, a custom homebuilder in the area for 37 years. 

Oklahoma Tornado: Officers arrest two suspected looters
May 22, 2013 at 8:24 a.m.

According to CBS News and the local television reports, two suspected looters were arrested in Moore, OK.  A homeowner said he found his belongings in their possession.  The men told him they were looking through the rubble of his home to find victims.  Their names have not been released.  A curfew remains in effect to prevent looting and accidents.

Rescuers think they found all the victims, but they will double and triple check crushed buildings to make sure no one has been left behind.

Oklahoma Twister A Top-of-the-scale EF-5
May 21, 2013 at 4:12 p.m.

The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Moore, Okla., was a top-of-the-scale EF-5 twister with winds of at least 200 mph.

Spokeswoman Keli Pirtle said Tuesday the agency upgraded the tornado from an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale to an EF-5 based on what a damage assessment team saw on the ground. The weather service uses the word "incredible" to describe the power of EF-5 storms.

The weather service says the tornado's path was 17 miles long and 1.3 miles wide.

Pirtle says Monday's twister is the first EF-5 tornado of 2013.

Man Credits Teacher With Saving Children's Lives
May 21, 2013 at 1:41 p.m.

The father of an 8-year-old Oklahoma boy says a teacher saved his son's life as a tornado tore into their school yesterday.

David Wheeler says the teacher at Briarwood Elementary in Moore took students into a closet and shielded them with her arms as the tornado collapsed the roof and starting lifting children upward. He says the pull was so strong that it sucked the glasses off their faces.

As the tornado approached, students at Briarwood Elementary were sent into the halls. But Wheeler says third-grade teacher Julie Simon thought it didn't look safe, so she ushered the children into a closet instead.

In Wheeler's words, "She saved their lives by putting them in a closet and holding their heads down."

Wheeler says he raced to the school through blinding rain and gusting wind. When he got there, he says "it was like the earth was wiped clean."

He eventually found his son, Gabriel, sitting with the teacher who had protected him. His back was cut and bruised and gravel was embedded in his head, but he was alive.

Okla. Governor: We Will Rebuild After Tornado
May 21, 2013 at 1:36 p.m.

Gov. Mary Fallin says an Oklahoma suburb that was devastated by a deadly tornado will be rebuilt.

At least 24 people, including nine children, were killed in the massive tornado that flattened homes and a school in Moore, Okla., on Monday afternoon.

Fallin told a Tuesday news conference that she doesn't know how many people are still missing following the tornado.

She says: "We will rebuild and we will regain our strength."

Medical Examiner: 24 Dead In Oklahoma Twister
May 21, 2013 at 11:21 a.m.

The state medical examiner's office has revised the death toll from a tornado in an Oklahoma City suburb to 24 people, including nine children.

Spokeswoman Amy Elliott said Tuesday morning that she believes some victims were counted twice in the early chaos of the storm. Authorities said initially that as many as 51 people were dead, including 20 children.

Elliott says nine children are confirmed dead, including seven who were pulled from the wreckage of an elementary school in Moore, 10 miles south of Oklahoma City.

Teams are continuing to search the shattered community after the Monday afternoon tornado

Obama Offers Help For Oklahoma Tornado Victims
May 21, 2013 at 10:21 a.m.
President Barack Obama says he is instructing his disaster response team to get tornado victims in Oklahoma everything they need "right away."
Obama calls the devastation that tore through the Oklahoma City suburbs, quote, "one of the most destructive tornados in history," even though he said the extent of the damage is still unknown.
Obama spoke Tuesday after an Oval Office briefing on the latest developments from his disaster response team and as Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Craig Fugate was heading to Oklahoma.
Obama has declared a major disaster in Oklahoma, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts.
The president offered prayers and said there's a long road of recovery ahead. But he said the victims won't travel alone and will have the resources they need.

51 Killed in Oklahoma Tornado; Toll Expected To Rise

Entire neighborhoods are flattened in Moore, Okla., where a powerful tornado struck yesterday.

At least 51 people, including 20 children, were killed in the Oklahoma City area, and officials expect the death toll to rise.

In Tornado's Wake, Worried Parents Search For Their Children
May 20, 2013 at 9:42 p.m.

Parents and guardians of children whose elementary schools were damaged in the deadly tornado that ripped through the Oklahoma City area are hoping for happy reunions.

 At least 20 children are among the more than 50 reported dead so far in Moore, an Oklahoma City suburb ravaged Monday afternoon by a tornado with winds up to 200 mph. Officials say the death toll could rise by as many as 40.

Many parents seeking their children gathered at a suburban church, listening intently as someone with a bullhorn called out the names of children who were being dropped off. For many families, the ordeal ended in tears of joy. Others were left to wait in the darkness, hoping for good news while fearing the worst. 

37 Confirmed Dead Following Okla. Tornado
May 20, 2013 at 8:17 p.m.

State medical examiner's office: 37 killed in Oklahoma tornado; death toll expected to rise.

Kids Rescued From Rubble At Okla. Elementary
May 20, 2013 at 7:18 p.m.

Several children have been pulled out of the rubble alive at a school in an Oklahoma City suburb.

An Associated Press photographer saw several children being pulled out of what was left of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., on Monday after a massive tornado hit the region.

Rescue workers lifted children from the rubble before they were passed down a human chain and taken to a triage center set up in the school's parking lot.

The school is southwest of Oklahoma City. Its roof appears mangled and the walls had fallen in or had collapsed.

The National Weather Service said the tornado's preliminary classification was an EF-4, with winds up to 200 mph.

White House Promises Help After Oklahoma Tornado
May 20, 2-13 at 6:49 p.m.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is assuring Oklahoma's governor that the Obama administration will provide all possible help to the state after a massive tornado tore through the Oklahoma City suburbs.

White House officials said Monday that Napolitano called Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to tell her that President Barack Obama had directed federal emergency management officials and his administration to ensure no needs go unmet.

The tornado flattened entire neighborhoods in the southern suburb of Moore, leaving buildings on fire and landing a direct blow to an elementary school.

NWS: Okla. Tornado Had Winds Up To 200 MPH
May 20, 2013 at 6:24 p.m.

The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Moore, Okla., had wind speeds up to 200 mph.

The weather service's preliminary classification of Monday afternoon's tornado was an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale.

Authorities say emergency crews are working to rescue people trapped in Moore, which is southwest of Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said emergency crews are trying to reach the affected areas. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The suburb of Moore was hit hard by a tornado in 1999. The storm had the highest winds ever recorded near the earth's surface.

Search For Survivors Begins In OKC Suburb
May 20, 2013 at 6:06 p.m.

A mix of volunteers and first responders are combing through debris in an Oklahoma City suburb looking for survivors.

The city of Moore, Okla., was hit by a mile-wide tornado on Monday afternoon.

People wearing neon-green vests were joined by residents in the search through rubble. Neighborhoods are flattened and homes blown apart.

Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department says an elementary school took a direct hit from the mile-wide tornado, but did not say which school was hit.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Shards of wood and pieces of insulation were strewn everywhere. Television footage also showed first responders picking through rubble and twisted metal.

Police: School Near OKC Directly Hit By Tornado
May 20, 2013 at 5:19 p.m.

Authorities say an elementary school in an Oklahoma City suburb took a direct hit from a mile-wide tornado.

Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department says there is no word of injuries from the elementary school. Knight says the school suffered "extensive damage" on Monday afternoon.

Neighborhoods in Moore, Okla., are flattened and buildings are on fire. Television footage on Monday afternoon showed homes and buildings that had been reduced to rubble in the city south of Oklahoma City. Footage also showed vehicles littering roadways south and southwest of Oklahoma City.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The suburb of Moore was hit hard by a tornado in 1999. The storm had the highest winds ever recorded near the earth's surface

Tornado In Oklahoma City Suburb Causes Destruction
May 20, 2013 at 5:11 p.m.

Television footage shows flattened buildings and fires after a mile-wide tornado moved through the Oklahoma City area.

Video showed homes and buildings in Moore, Okla., were reduced to rubble, and vehicles littered roadways south and southwest of Oklahoma City.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The suburb of Moore, where Monday's damage was concentrated, was hit hard by a tornado in 1999 that included the highest winds ever recorded near the earth's surface.

Large Funnel Cloud Touches Down Near Oklahoma City

May 20, 2013 at 4:30 p.m.

A large tornado is bearing down near Oklahoma City, part of a series of severe storms expected across portions of the Midwest.

Television footage shows a funnel cloud touching down southwest of the city on Monday, and radar indicates it is moving toward the state's capital city.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives canceled its afternoon sessions so Capitol employees and state lawmakers could take shelter. Sirens blared and workers made their way to the Capitol basement.

Oklahoma City's southeastern suburbs were hit by a storm Sunday and two people died. Monday's storm is in an area that is more densely populated.

Monday's storm is also near where a violent twister hit May 3, 1999. That storm carried the highest winds ever recorded on earth.

Okla. House suspends work as tornado sirens blare
May 20, 2013 at 4:15 p.m.

The Oklahoma House has temporarily suspended its daily session and members were urged to head to the basement of the Capitol after tornado sirens sounded outside the building.

Faxon Republican Rep. Don Armes was presiding over the House Monday afternoon when he said troopers alerted him to worsening weather conditions in the Oklahoma City area. A tornado warning was issued for several Oklahoma counties, including the Oklahoma City area, after reports of a tornado on the ground.

A few legislative members and lobbyists continued to mill about the fourth floor of the Capitol building, and the Senate continued to meet for its afternoon session.

2nd Person Killed In Tornado Outbreak
May 20, 2013 at 12:42 p.m.

Oklahoma's state medical examiner's office says a second person was killed by a tornado that leveled a central Oklahoma mobile home park.

Office spokeswoman Amy Elliott on Monday identified the two people who are confirmed to have been killed during Sunday's storms as 79-year-old Glen Irish and 76-year-old Billy Hutchinson. Both men were from Shawnee.

One of several tornadoes that touched down in parts of the nation's midsection on Sunday leveled the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park near Shawnee.

Tornadoes Slam Plains, Midwest; 1 Dead In Okla.
May 20, 2013 at 5:07 a.m.

An Oklahoma sheriff is crediting early warnings for a low death toll during a tornado outbreak that ravaged the Plains and Midwest.

Authorities say a 79-year-old man died Sunday when a twister flattened much of a mobile home park southeast of Oklahoma City. Sheriff Mike Booth credited TV and radio stations that provided wall-to-wall broadcasts of the violent weather.

Lindsay Carter, of Shawnee, says she fled her home when she heard a tornado was coming. When she returned, she had lost part of her home's roof, but some of her neighbors' homes had vanished.

Forecasters say tornadoes could hit Monday in parts of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma - roughly the same area hit Sunday night.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Okla. residents come home to pick up the pieces

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 Update 5:15 a.m.


Accoriding to CBS News, Police arrested two people who are accused of looting from a Moore neighborhood that was destroyed by a deadly tornado Monday afternoon.

Officers said a homeowner reported two men breaking into what was left of his home. The suspects claimed they were looking for survivors but the resident told police he found his belongings in the looters' pockets.

Officers found a bag full of items the two had reportedly stolen from homes destroyed in the neighborhood.

Police have not identified the suspects..


The residents of Moore, Okla., affected by a deadly tornado are coming back to find their belongings scattered and their homes left in pieces.

Monday's tornado killed at least 24 people, countless homes and reduced one elementary school almost entirely to rubble. While officials still grapple with how to rebuild and how to pay for it, people in this Oklahoma City suburb are anxious to start the process of rebuilding.

Colleen Arvin, an 83-year-old grandmother, walked with her son and grandsons through what was left of her home. Part of her roof was sitting in the front yard, and the siding from the front of the house was gone.

She laughed when a grandson found her keys. She said: "Oh thank God. We can get in the house."

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