You are on page 1of 11

Devin Stallings

Emergency Planning
Chief Wojnar
November 12th, 2015
Oklahoma City Tornado
What is a tornado? In the article written by eschooltoday it states, Tornadoes are violent
storms that strike as a powerful rotating mixture of wind and thunderstorm clouds, extending
from the clouds to the ground in a funnel shape (eschooltoday). The article also gave some more
intriguing information which is that tornadoes are known to be the most powerful and destructive
atmospheric generated phenomena (wind system), and are very common in the USA, particularly
from the middle belt extending to the east coast (eschooltoday). Just like hurricanes, tornadoes
have a season. Tornadoes can happen all year round, but typically forming in the late spring
around March and with most incidents happening in the summer around May and June and they
begin to reduce in strength around the fall (eschooltoday). Tornadoes typically form during the
daytime from about the mid-afternoon until about the early evening (eschooltoday). They
typically move from southwest to the northeast, but sometimes they can and will move in any
direction, but generally in the path of the thunderstorm (eschooltoday). The spinning winds form
a tornado can cover an area of about 300 400 yards, and they can even travel a path for about 5
mile, but note some tornadoes travel for over 80 miles (eschooltoday). A tornado can travel at a
speed of about 5 60mph (eschooltoday). Based on that information on what a tornado is and
how it is made up will help with the understanding of the facts that go along with the description
of the devastating tornado that hit the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area. The tornado started at
around 2:56 p.m. CDT which is 3:56 p.m. EDT on May 20th, 2013 (Thompson). The tornado

touched down southwest of Moore, Okla. which is a small city of about 55,000 people that is a
part of the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area (Thompson). If you are unfamiliar of the area this
is in central Oklahoma (Thompson). This tornado was on the ground for 17 miles (27 kilometers)
and finally vanished at 3:26 p.m. CDT (4:26 p.m. EDT) according to the Nation Weather Service
(NWS) office in Norman, Okla. (Thompson). So from that information how strong was this
tornado? The NWS Norman office gave the storm a rating of an EF4 (Thompson). But later on
that was revised and estimated to be an EF5 which is the highest rating on the Enhanced Fujita
scale (Thompson). The main reason the rating was revised was because a trained survey team
was calculating the data and the damaged caused and realized that it was much higher than a
level 4 (Thompson). Even though these ratings are an educated guess teams that have dedicated a
lot of their time to understanding these types of storms use them and their data to prepare others
for reoccurrences (Thompson). So an EF4 tornado can level a sturdy house, can send cars and
other large objects flying, and they have estimated winds between 166 and 200 mph
(Thompson). An EF5 tornado is much stronger than that and they can blow big houses and
collapse tall buildings, and their winds are estimated at more than 200 mph (Thompson). So with
all that information how much damage did the tornado actually cause? The damage toll still to
this day hasnt been tallied up. There are many reports of $1 billion to $2 billion in damages. But
the tornado was on the ground for 17 miles and it covered 1.3 miles in width (Thompson). There
were 2 schools that were demolished from this tornado and many buildings and houses in town
(Thompson). How deadly was this tornado? In the first 24 hours there were 24 deaths and 324
people injured (Thompson). Those are really high numbers from a storm that lasted only 30
minutes (Thompson). Later on the death toll was added up to be about 51 deaths and 20 of the 51
people that died were children (Mannette). And out of the 324 injured 45 were children

(Mannette). Did people have enough warning? In the article written by Thompson she said the
NWS Norman office issued a tornado warning 16 minutes before the tornado actually formed,
which is 3 minutes faster than the average warning of 13 minutes (Thompson). For a tornado
warning to be issued a trained spotter reports the tornado on the ground, or a Doppler radar
indicates that a circulation in a thunderstorm could spawn a tornado (Thompson). Not everyone
is aware of warning signs as soon as they are issued even though they go out on local media
stations as well as special radios and even some weather apps because the amount of warning
time a person has can depend on when they hear the warning and how quickly they can take
cover (Thompson). But in this case it is much different because meteorologists at the Norman
office and other NWS offices, including the Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Okla. had been
monitoring the potential for a tornado outbreak days in advance, and they started then to warn
residents to be wary and sending reminders about tornado safety (Thompson). Can Moore be hit
again with another tornado? From the article it states that they could be hit again because this
was the fourth tornado to hit the city directly in just 14 years (Thompson). The first one hit the
city on May 3rd, 1999 and it was also an EF5 tornado it killed 36 people and caused an estimated
$1 billion in damages (Thompson). And then there were 2 tornados that hit the city May 8th, 2003
and May 10th, 2010 (Thompson). So what exactly caused the Moore tornado? The tornado
formed a string of other severe storms that spawned several other tornados yesterday
(Thompson). When the conditions are right for a tornado to form it will. Meaning when there is
warm, humid air near the surface and colder, and drier above and began pushing the warm air
like a wedge (Thompson). So to help make that make more sense the cold air above causes the
warmer air below to rise (because the air is less dense) and as the air rises the water in it
condenses out and if the temperature in the atmosphere changes rapidly enough frim surface to

the air a thunderstorm cloud forms (Thompson). When this situation combines with winds that
change strength and direction with height in the atmosphere the system can begin to rotate
(Thompson). Now here comes the irony the central Oklahoma area was right near the jet stream
yesterday which meant that it was near some of the fastest and most variable winds associated
with the string of storms (Thompson). Now why is this ironic, its ironic because an updraft can
tighten the rotation and bend it upward, creating a funnel cloud, rain or hail can then push down
on the tail end of the funnel causing the tornado to touch the ground (Thompson). So legitimately
the area of the storm caused the tornado to become stronger and actually touch down.
Now that the facts are out of the way lets dive deep into what people, organizations, and
governmental associations did to help. There were many aspects they started but all of these
started around the same time to try and be efficient and get as much help out there as possible.
The main point was to try and help and save people that could be trapped. There was a fear
because there were 2 schools that were demolished and they wanted to make sure that they could
save all the children they could. The article by Lars Anderson states, Three national Urban
Search and Rescue Teams (Texas Task Force 1, Nebraska Task Force 1 and Tennessee Task Force
1) and an incident Support Team have been deployed to support the immediate response efforts
(Anderson). That is very impressive to have 3 teams from 3 different areas come in and be
expected to preform to a high level not even knowing the area. Even though they are trained to
be able to handle any and all situations you still have to give them a lot of credit when it comes
down to it. Another step they took while looking for people was to start assessing damages. Lars
Anderson writes, Preliminary damages assessment teams, comprised of representative for the
state, FEMA and the Small Business Administration, are on the ground and will begin
assessments today, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after

the assessments are fully completed (Anderson). So to start we have 3 teams in searching and
rescuing people and we have another team on the grounds doing assessments of the damages. Up
to this point we are at a good start with the processes and operations of restoring this city back to
life. Another key aspect that was use that the author included in her article was that, One
national and two regional Incident Management Assistance Teams are developed to the state
emergency operations center in Oklahoma City to coordinate with state and local officials in
support of recovery operations (Anderson). That is a big addition to the the whole operation
project. The next point that the author added to the article was that there were two Mobile
Emergency Response Support Teams that were located in Oklahoma to provide self-sustaining
telecommunications, logistics, and operations support elements, to assist in the immediate
response needs ad additional teams are being deployed (Anderson). So there is a lot going on
right now. There are 3 teams in searching for people, there is a damage assessment team, there
are 3 incident management assistance teams, and there are 2 mobile emergency response support
teams so a lot of aspects of the recovery and operations to help this city get back on their feet are
being done. This article was written the next day after the tornado destroyed the city. Lars
Anderson writes, Three Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams are scheduled to arrive later today
into communities to perform the Assess, Inform, and Report (AIR) Missions, a tool to help
federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners gather detailed information the affected areas
during the critical first hours, days and weeks after a disaster strikes. DSATs will address
immediate and emerging needs of disaster survivors including: on-site registration, applicant
status checks, on-the-spot needs assessments, and access to partners offering survivor services
(Anderson). That is HUGE in this process because it is getting information from people that the
government wouldnt have been able to get. Its like a data analysis survey that they are doing to

know what to do, how to treat things, and when and where to start everything else. And the
author also included that FEMA activated the National Response Coordination Center in
Washington, D.C., a multi-agency coordination center that provides overall coordination of the
federal response to natural disasters and emergencies, to support state requests for assistance, and
FEMAs Region VI Response coordination Centers (RRCC) located in Denton, Texas remained
activated (Anderson). Now that was a great decision made by FEMA because in a situation like
this there needs to be coordination and there has to be steps and sequences in which they will get
the job done. Another great thing was that if you were affected you were informed to register
with FEMA online or with your smartphone just so they could find out where you were and what
precautionary measures to take and what roads to use and what roads you couldnt use
(Anderson). Another thing that was put in place by the American Red Cross was that if you were
trying to get in touch with family and friends because knowing phone lines would be congested
after a disaster so other forms of communication were going to be better successful (Anderson).
So calling the Red Cross did not mean that you would automatically get in touch with you family
member it meant they would look them up to see where they registered at and point you in the
right direction to meet up with them or to even check and see if they were okay. And then there
was if you were in the affected area and were looking to help out and not be helped you could
have contacted the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters where you would get a
list of organizations you could make a donation to (Anderson).
Oklahoma has had more tornado strikes than any other city in the United States (City). Si
if a city has been hit so many times so many different ways they only can be prepared correct?
That is correct they are prepared. All of this information is coming from their city website. On
this website it tells you what a tornado is, the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado

warning, when its tornado season, is there a time of the day when a tornado might happen, what
are some of the tornado danger signs, and are there signs that I should look for (City)? They have
a section on the website that says Things to do Now and this section gives specific details. The
article states that if you have a storm shelter, register its location with the city (City). The reason
that you register with the city is because your shelters location will let rescue workers know you
have a shelter and where to find it if a disaster covers is with debris and theres a number to use
to call and register (City). Next it tells you to have regular tornado drills with you family (City).
The article states, Designate an area in your home as a shelter, and regularly practice having
your family go there as if there were a tornado. Make sure your family knows the difference
between a tornado watch and a tornado warning (City). The next thing it says is to have
disaster supplies on hand (City). These disaster supplies can will be a flashlight and extra
batteries (do not use candles or open flame devices!), portable battery operated radio and extra
batteries, first aid kit and manual, emergency food and water, non-electric can opener, essential
medicines, cash and credit cards, sturdy shoes, a set of spare keys to vehicles, personal
identification, and a camera with several rolls of film (for documenting your damage) (City).
And the last thing in this section is to develop an emergency communications plan (City). The
article states, Have a plan for getting back together in case family members are separated from
one another during a tornado. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to act as the family contact.
After a disaster, its often easier to call long distances. Make sure everyone in the family knows
the name, address and phone number of the contact person (City). All of that might be
considered common sense but it took a few times for this city to be hit for them to really start
putting things in place. The next section is When its on the way. The first point is that when the
tornado is coming you have a short amount of time to make life or death decisions advance

planning and quick response are the keys to surviving (City). Now it tells you what to do in
different places. It says when you are at home you should, Go to the basement, storm cellar, or
the lowest level of the building. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallways or a small inner
room without widows, such as a bathroom or closet. Get away from windows. Go to the center of
the room. Stay away from corners because they tend to attract debris. Get under a piece of sturdy
furniture and hold on to it. Use your arms to protect your head and neck (City). Next it says if
youre at work or at school, Go to the basement or to an inside hallway at the lowest level.
Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as a heavy table or desk and hold on to it. Use your arms
to protect your head and neck (City). Next it says if you are outside you should, If possible go
inside a building. If shelter is not available or there is no time to go indoors, lie in a ditch or lowlying area or crouch near a strong building. Be aware of the potential for flooding. Use your arms
to protect your head and neck (City). Then it says if you are in a car you should, Get out of the
car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building. Never try to outdrive a tornado. Tornadoes
can change direction quickly and can lift up a car or a truck and toss it through the air. If there is
not time to get indoors, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the
vehicle. Be aware of the potential for flooding. Do not take cover under a bridge (City). And the
last point in this section is that if you live in a mobile home you should, Mobile homes are
particularly vulnerable. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been
taken to tie the unit down. When a tornado warning is issued, take shelter in a building with a
strong foundation. If shelter is not available, lie in a ditch or low-lying area a safe distance away
from the unit (City). That is information that has been acquired throughout the various
tornadoes that have hit the town. They have learned many different ways to help people stay safe
and instruct them to keep their family safe. The section that the article has is After its passed.

This section tells you to help the people that are injured and trapped, give first aid when
appropriate, dont try and move the seriously injured unless they are in immediate danger of
further injury (City). They say for you to help out because you will end up being the first
responder. Help is on the way but they cant get to everyone first but if you are close you can
provide CPR, give people water, help bandage cuts, etc. It also says to help you neighbors who
may require special assistance such as infants, elderly, and the people with disabilities (City). It
is important to help all of them because they are going to be the ones that are scared the most and
need the most guidance and security physically and mentally. And some food for thought that
they insisted is to stay out of damaged buildings, return home when you receive the say so, only
use the telephones for emergency purposes, clean up medicines and chemicals and if you smell
any gas or anything leave that building, and lastly take pictures of the damages (City).
How about 2 whole years later? What has been learned and how has the event impacted
the city? In an article written by Kevin France an AccuWeather.com Staff Writer has made some
very intriguing points to help answer the questions. Kevin writes, Dealing with an event of this
magnitude can be a feat of its own, and with the two-year anniversary of the 2013 tornado
looming, the City of Moore has made adjustments to ensure that residents are safe from powerful
tornadoes (France). Gayland Kitch who is the director of Emergency Management of the City of
Moore was interviewed and he stated, Learning from past severe weather events is the key to
making sure less casualties occur in the future (France). From what happened 2 years ago they
have already taken steps to be better prepared. The City of Moore has had many casualties from
severe weather and its not something that can be 100% eradicated but it can be trimmed down
more than it is. Kitch also stated, This is our fourth large tornado that we have dealt with and
modifying procedures based upon these events will make our citizens safer, Kitch also added,

In addition to powerful tornadoes, Moore also experiences smaller ones, and we have used these
situations as a way to practice emergency management protocol for when a large-scale event
occurs (France). That is big to take everything that has happened and use it in the future to make
sure you are prepared for another severe one. Moore has taken the correct steps toward
preparedness for the future they are using their severe plans for their smaller tornadoes. They
dont have to call all of the different teams and federal agencies but know what to do in case they
have to use their extreme protocol for the future.
In conclusion, the City of Moore has suffered more than once and it wasnt over
something minor. The city faced its second EF5 level tornado. The city lost more of its
community. Meaning the city lost friends, family, children, schools, jobs, homes and other things
that had a moral and or physical value to them. There are many agencies that pitched in to help
revive this city. And from the article written by Kevin France they have done a great job because
they are prepared if something like this was to happen again. Also during this time Kevin Durant
who is the starting small forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder and 2014 Kia NBA MVP went
through the town and shook hands and check on people and let them know he was there praying
for them and he was affected to. He provided hope and gave a breath of life back into that city.
They were going through so much he helped by just showing his face, and talking to the
community. There are many positives that come from this horrific and devastating tornado which
are that the operations during the time of the devastation went according to plan and successfully
and they all learned something from it and are able to apply it to future storms.

Bibliography
Anderson, Lars. Oklahoma Tornado Response & How to Help. Oklahoma, 21 May 2013.
Website.

City, City of Oklahoma. Tornado Safety . Oklahoma City, n.d. Website .


eschooltoday. Cool facts and tips on tornadoes . 2014. web.
France, Kevin. Two Years After the Moore Tornado: What Has the City Learned? 20 May 2015.
Website.
Mannette, Alice. Oklahoma Tornado 2013 Devestates Moore, Kills Dozens . 21 May 2013.
Website .
Thompson, Andrea. Moore, Okla. Tornado - FAQ. 21 May 2013. web.