Robert O’Block reports that one of the deadliest tornados in the history of the United States tore through Moore, Oklahoma, a suberb of Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon. Officials are categorizing it as an F4 tornado at this point, with winds up to 200 miles per hour. The strongest tornado would be an F5, with winds over 200 miles per hour. The death count stands at 51, with 20 of those being children. It is expected to rise considerably. Entire streets were obliterated. It appeared as if the structures were razed. There were at least 120 injured.
Two elementary schools were directly in the path of the tornado, Plaza Towers Elementary School and Briarwood. At Plaza Towers there were seven children that drowned in a pool of water deposited by the tornado. There was also a hospital heavily damaged.
“It’s absolutely huge. It’s horrific,” Gov. Mary Fallin said on NBC’s TODAY. “It looked like somebody set off something that destroyed structures. Not blocks, but miles.”
As the day dawned on Tuesday morning, rescuers were still digging through the rubble in the hopes of finding more survivors. There is still the threat of more severe weather. Rescuers walked among the devastation on Monday evening listening for voices that might be calling out from the rubble. One hospital reported that they treated 85 patients, of which 65 were children. The injuries ranged from minor to critical.
This devastating tornado struck almost two years to the day after the horrific Joplin tornado, which was categorized as an F5, with winds over 200 miles per hour. The Joplin tornado struck late in the afternoon on Sunday, May 22, 2011. The tornado was 1/2 to 3/4 mile wide and it traveled about 13 miles. There were 161 people killed and hundreds more were injured. There were 553 businesses destroyed which affected between 4,500 and 5,000 employees.