tornadoes

Tornado Victims Frustrated With SBA Loans

Jul 28, 2014
Nate Robson / Oklahoma Watch

After a presidentially declared disaster like last year’s tornadoes in Central Oklahoma, the U.S. Small Business Administration often steps in, offering low-interest loans to help homeowners and businesses recover.

But the SBA has been criticized in the past for being slow to respond.

As part of our project with Oklahoma Watch tracking federal aid from the 2013 storms, the Oklahoma Tornado Project’s Kate Carlton Greer reports many people still have complaints about the process.

Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Tornado Project

When federal aid started pouring into the state after last years’ storms, FEMA designated 4 million dollars for hazard mitigation – a tool used to protect communities from future severe weather through things like storm shelters.

As part of our series with Oklahoma Watch tracking the disaster relief funds, Kate Carlton Greer with the Oklahoma Tornado Project reports the communities you’d think might receive this kind of money sometimes don’t.

While tornadoes continue to tear across America's midsection — taking lives and destroying property — we continue to search for explanations of the phenomenon, in hopes of developing better warning systems and protection.

But after decades of research, funded by decamillions of dollars, the fundamentals of wind funnels remain somewhat mysterious.

Joplin Businesses Bounce Back After 2011 Tornado

Jun 17, 2014
Gail Banzet-Ellis / Oklahoma Tornado Project

When a tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma in May of last year, residential neighborhoods bore the brunt of the damage. But it was a different story in Joplin, Missouri, after an EF-5 tornado damaged or destroyed more than 500 businesses back in 2011.

Three years later, more than 90% of those businesses have returned to write a new chapter in Joplin’s story.  Gail Banzet-Ellis with the Oklahoma Tornado Project reports. 

 

Gail Banzet-Ellis / Oklahoma Tornado Project

This May marks the three-year anniversary of the EF-5 tornado that ripped through Joplin, Missouri, just across the northeastern Oklahoma border. As Gail Banzet-Ellis reports, the city, like Moore, Oklahoma, lost a hospital. The community’s health care facilities became symbols of overall recovery and revival.

Take Shelter Oklahoma / takeshelterok.org

For the past 9 months, school shelter supporters have fought to get a $500 million bond issue to fund safe room construction on a statewide ballot.  Attorney General Scott Pruitt revised the original proposal, adding what Take Shelter Oklahoma called "biased" and "unfair" language.  But as Kate Carlton Greer reports, the advocacy group announced a new version today. 

Jason Colston / American Red Cross

During tornado season, preparedness is key. Phrases like “Don’t be scared, be prepared” populate Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites when there’s a severe weather threat. One organization is now taking steps to ensure kids also know what to do when severe weather rolls in.  

Shannon Reed is a Community Resiliency Specialist with the Red Cross. Last month, she spent a day in a gymnasium at Carney Elementary School, teaching kids about severe weather.

After a devastating tornado rolled through Moore, Okla., last May, firefighters were scrambling to pull people out of storm shelters. Actually finding those shelters, though, was difficult. Landmarks had been swept away, and the town's emergency dispatcher was overwhelmed with calls.

"Yes, we're at 604 South Classen. There's people down," one caller said. "We're stuck under rubble. ... Please hurry."

Shonn Neidel was one of the firefighters rushing to rescue people that day, and he quickly saw a problem.

A devastating EF-5 tornado ripped through Moore, Okla., a year ago Tuesday. Just 11 days later, another twister ravaged the Oklahoma City metro area.

Nine of the 23 people who died as a result of the second storm were members of the local Latino community. Their deaths have sparked efforts to better prepare Hispanic families for storms.

On a windy afternoon in Oklahoma City, American Red Cross volunteer Ivelisse Cruz hands out stickers to families at the Children's Day Festival.

One year ago Tuesday, a violent tornado obliterated the city of Moore, Okla., killing 24 residents and leaving nearly 400 injured among the razed homes and businesses. It was the third violent tornado to strike the city in the past 15 years. But rather than move away, residents have stayed put in Moore — and more and more are actually moving here.

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