Massive Moore Tornado Upgraded to F5; Nine Children Dead; Death Toll Stands at 24

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Nine children died in Monday’s massive Moore Tornado, which ripped through the Oklahoma City suburb, killing 24, injuring hundreds and leaving a trail of destruction through the center of the heartland.

The deadly F5 tornado, upgraded by the National Weather Service from its initial F4 estimate, clocked wind speeds between 200-210 mph and touched down initially in Newcastle, Oklahoma. The 1.3 mile wide twister, stayed on the ground for almost 40 minutes, snapping trees, downing power lines and obliterating the city’s south side as it traveled a very well defined path, for 17miles, through the city of Moore.

Of the 24 fatalities, the nine children died when the vicious tornado slammed into Plaza Towers Elementary, one of two schools that took a direct hit slicing it through the middle. The other, Briarwood Elementary was also demolished and miraculously all escaped with minor injuries.  

The Oklahoma Department of Health (OSDH) reports 237 injuries due to Monday’s super storm; 148 individuals’ sustained cuts or piercings, 85 were struck by objects and four individuals struck by vehicles or large objects.

With the death toll standing at 24, officials are crediting the incredibly low loss of life to early warnings, days in advance, from the National Weather Service indicating that a super cell storm system was forming with the potential for tornados, damaging and destructive winds.

On scene rescue workers immediately focused on the demolished Plaza Towers, where 75 students and teachers were sheltering in the designated tornado shelter, and according to the Oklahoma Emergency Management Service, began lifting cinder blocks and pulling students from the rubble unharmed. “They were literally lifting walls up and kids were coming out” stated Oklahoma State Police Sergeant Jeremy Lewis. “They pulled kids out from under cinder blocks without a scratch on them.”

Only 21 square miles, in the middle of tornado alley, the city of Moore sustained devastating destruction. Likened to a war zone, in addition to the two elementary schools, the Moore Medical center also sustained severe damage as the F5 literally wiped out entire neighborhoods in this city of 56,000.

Initial estimates place damage in excessive of $1billion. The White House has already approved the state’s request for disaster relief.  

The Red Cross has issued a need for Type O negative and RH-negative Blood. United Way, Red Cross and the Salvation Army of Arkansas-Oklahoma have dispatched disaster teams to the area.

Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief, Oklahoma Blood Institute and Feed the Children have also sent teams to the area.

Verizon has deployed three mobile charging stations. Two are located in Moore at the Home Depot parking lot, SW 19th and Telephone Rd and 201 S. Howard. The third is located in Shawnee, Oklahoma at the Shawnee High School.

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