May 20, 2013
On Monday afternoon, one of the tornadoes that have been careening through the plains hit a suburb of Oklahoma City called Moore. What happened, how many people were killed or injured, and how many lives and livelihoods were destroyed aren’t clear yet. (At midnight Oklahoma time the count was ninety-one dead, twenty of them children, with more missing.) The images are wrenching: an elementary school that was all but flattened, highways with gashes across them, housing lots scraped bare, buildings on fire. The tornado’s destructive path was apparently two miles wide. (“It seems that our worst fears have happened today,” Bill Bunting, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Oklahoma, said, according to Reuters.) There were warnings before the tornadoes hit, but those only get you so far from danger—and don’t mean that you will have a home to go back to. People were advised to get to a real cellar, not a simple storm shelter, and that it was time to abandon mobile homes. Many got word just sixteen minutes before the storm touched down and smashed their streets.
The tornado struck just before 3 P.M. local time, and many children weren’t home yet.