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