Oklahoma twister search, rescue almost finished
by Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press and Sean Murphy, Associated Press
May 21, 2013 03:45 PM | 1519 views | 1 1 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A boy is pulled from beneath a collapsed wall at the Plaza Towers Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A tornado as much as half a mile (.8 kilometers) wide with winds up to 200 mph (320 kph) roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/ Sue Ogrocki)
A boy is pulled from beneath a collapsed wall at the Plaza Towers Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. A tornado as much as half a mile (.8 kilometers) wide with winds up to 200 mph (320 kph) roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (AP Photo/ Sue Ogrocki)
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MOORE, Okla. — Helmeted rescue workers raced Tuesday to complete the search for survivors and the dead in the Oklahoma City suburb where a mammoth tornado destroyed countless homes, cleared lots down to bare red earth and claimed 24 lives.

Scientists concluded the storm was a rare and extraordinarily powerful type of twister known as an EF5, which is capable of lifting reinforced buildings off the ground, hurling cars like missiles and stripping trees completely free of bark.

Meanwhile, residents of Moore began returning to their homes a day after the tornado smashed some neighborhoods into jagged wood scraps and gnarled pieces of metal. In place of their houses, many families found only empty lots.

The fire chief said he was confident there are no more bodies or survivors in the rubble.

“I’m 98 percent sure we’re good,” Gary Bird said Tuesday at a news conference with the governor, who had just completed an aerial tour of the disaster zone.

Authorities were so focused on the search effort that they had yet to establish the full scope of damage along the storm’s long, ruinous path.

The death toll was revised downward from 51 after the state medical examiner said some victims may have been counted twice in the confusion.

By Tuesday afternoon, every damaged home had been searched at least once, Bird said. His goal was to conduct three searches of each building just to be certain there were no more bodies or survivors.

The fire chief was hopeful that could be completed before nightfall but efforts were being hampered by heavy rain. Crews also continued a brick-by-brick search of the rubble of a school that was blown apart with many children inside.

No additional survivors or bodies have been found since Monday night, Bird said.

Survivors emerged with harrowing accounts of the storm’s wrath, which many endured as they shielded loved ones.

Chelsie McCumber grabbed her 2-year-old son, Ethan, wrapped him in jackets and covered him with a mattress before they squeezed into a coat closet of their house. McCumber sang to her child when he complained it was getting hot inside the small space.

“I told him we’re going to play tent in the closet,” she said, beginning to cry.

“I just felt air so I knew the roof was gone,” she said Tuesday, standing under the sky where her roof should have been. The home was littered with wet gray insulation and all of their belongings.
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Our Hearts Go Out
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May 21, 2013
It's hard to process the scenes on tv. Especially the two elementary schools and the lost of life there. You would think we would build schools with a hallway, closet etc that could withstand a tornado. It's not rocket science. It's just not a priority for the local school boards, parents or public at large.

Every time one of these tragedies strike, it reminds me that my wife would be there on top of those kids or between them and the gunman, shielding them, because she's a career teacher and doesn't know how to do it any other way. The kids come first and always have. Whether it's a natural disaster, an incompetent administrator or an uninvolved, unreasonable parent, teachers put their students first, and always will. If they teach in Cobb, the never ending parade of bad school boards and administrators only serve to make an already stressful job even more so. More unneeded busy work dreamed up by someone to justify their jobs and less time and pay to do it with more and more students per class. They may be stressed mentally and physically, but god help you if you try to harm one of their students...
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