Wednesday 16 October 2019

Tornado cost could be 2bn dollars

An American flag flaps in the wind near Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma (AP/The Dallas Morning News, Brad Loper)
An American flag flaps in the wind near Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma (AP/The Dallas Morning News, Brad Loper)
A woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma (AP, Sue Ogrocki)
An aerial photo shows the remains of houses in Moore, Oklahoma after the tornado hit (AP)
A tornado passes across south Oklahoma City (AP/The Oklahoman, Paul Hellstern)
A child calls to his father after being pulled from the rubble of the Tower Plaza Elementary School following a tornado (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
A teacher hugs a child at Briarwood Elementary school after a tornado destroyed the school (AP/The Oklahoman, Paul Hellstern)
A woman is pulled out from under tornado debris at the Plaza Towers School in Moore, Oklahoma (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
A boy is pulled from beneath a collapsed wall at the Plaza Towers Elementary School following a tornado (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
Rescue workers dig through the rubble of the Plaza Tower Elementary School to free trapped students in Moore, Oklahoma (AP/Sue Ogrocki)
A massive tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, flattened entire neighbourhoods (AP/Steve Gooch)
A fire burns in the Tower Plaza Addition in Moore, Oklahoma following a tornado (AP/Sue Ogrocki)

The cost of the massive Oklahoma tornado could top two billion dollars (£1.3 billion), according to early estimates.

The tally is based on visual assessments of the extensive damage zone stretching more than 17 miles and the fact that the tornado was on the ground for 40 minutes.

An Oklahoma Insurance Department spokeswoman said the financial cost of Monday's tornado in Moore could be greater than that from the 2011 tornado that killed 158 people in Joplin, Missouri.

With no reports of anyone still missing and with the death toll at 24 people, nine of them children, authorities and residents have turned toward assessing the damage and plotting a future course for Moore, a town of about 56,000 which was also hit by a massive tornado in 1999.

Authorities have yet to present concrete numbers for how many homes were damaged or destroyed, but the view from the air shows whole neighbourhoods obliterated, with gouged earth littered with splintered wood and pulverized cars.

Rescue workers have been searching tirelessly for survivors and victims, and they planned to keep going - sometimes double and triple-checking home sites. They were not certain how many homes were destroyed or how many families had been displaced. Emergency workers had trouble navigating devastated areas because there were no street signs left. Some rescuers used smartphones or GPS devices to guide them through areas with no recognisable landmarks.

Moore fire chief Gary Bird said he was confident there are no more bodies or survivors in the rubble. Every damaged home had been searched at least once, he said, but his goal was to conduct three searches of each building just to be certain there were no more bodies or survivors.

Officials revised the death toll downward from 51 to 24 on Tuesday after the state medical examiner said some victims may have been double-counted in the confusion immediately after the storm. More than 200 people were treated at area hospitals.

Search-and-rescue teams focused their efforts at Plaza Towers Elementary School, where the storm ripped off the roof, knocked down walls and destroyed the playground as students and teachers huddled in hallways and bathrooms.

Seven of the dead children were killed at the school, but others were pulled alive from under a collapsed wall and other heaps of mangled debris. Rescue workers passed the survivors down a human chain of parents and volunteers.

PA Media

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