Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

'A Long Road Ahead': Lawmakers Pledge Help for Moore

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

'A Long Road Ahead': Lawmakers Pledge Help for Moore

Article excerpt

Search-and-rescue efforts continued in Moore following Monday's devastating tornado that cut a swath through the community, killing 24 and injuring hundreds of others. The storm was eerily similar to a May 3, 1999, tornado that killed more than 40 and caused more than a billion dollars in damage.

Speaking a joint press conference Tuesday, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin said the destruction was surreal, but Moore would be rebuilt.

"When we got there, there was no school," Fallin said. "People weren't able to call. They weren't able to drive down the streets. They didn't know where their loved ones were. It was a very frightening time."

Monday's tornado - ranked as an EF-5 on the enhanced Fujita scale - was at one point more than two miles wide. Rick Smith, a spokesman for the National Weather Service, said the tornado's path was more than 17 miles long.

The storm also prompted the OklahomaLegislature to tap the state's Constitutional Reserve Fund. On Tuesday, a Senate budget committee approved a new version of Senate Bill 249, which earmarked $45 million from the Rainy Day Fund for disaster relief efforts. That bill must still be approved by the House of Representatives and signed by Fallin.

The Senate's action followed an announcement by state Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, Tuesday that he would file legislation to authorize a $500 million bond issue to fund safe rooms in public schools.

In Moore, at least two elementary schools, a junior high, an administrative building and a technology center were heavily damaged.

Moore Public Schools Superintendent Susan Pierce said the system - considered the third largest in the state - put its disaster plan into action as soon as tornado warnings were issued. Pierce said tornado procedures were implemented by every school site in the district.

"Safety is our main priority," she said. "When it was time to shelter, we did just that."

Despite the damage to the community, Pierce said, Moore's graduation ceremonies would continue as planned. …

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