Oklahoma mayor pushes for safe room requirement
The mayor of the Oklahoma City suburb battered by a monstrous tornado says he is pushing to require safe-room shelters in all new homes.
Glen Lewis said Wednesday he will propose an ordinance in the next couple of days at the Moore City Council that would modify building codes to require the construction of reinforced shelters in every new home in the town of 56,000.
The suburb was also hit by a massive tornado in 1999 that followed nearly the same path as the storm Monday that killed at least 24 people.
Lewis says he is confident he'll get the four votes needed on the six-member council. The measure could be in force within months.
Underground safe rooms are typically built below garages and can cost around $4,000.
Meantime, in a community used to experiencing tornadoes, many in Moore, Oklahoma are in a state of shock.
"This was the storm of storms," said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.
Monday's tornado was categorized an EF-5, the most powerful possible, packing 200 mile per hour winds. It was on the ground for 40 minutes and cut a path of destruction for 17 miles.
In the midst of the debris field, there are signs of resilience and strength in a community where 19,000 residents have been displaced. Throughout the day Tuesday, victims returned to what was left of their homes, searching for anything the twister left behind.
"We found pictures and sentimental things, but everything else is gone," said Laura McCartney.
Dogs were sent door-to-door in a last attempt to find survivors, while residents of Moore struggle to grasp the magnitude of the disaster.
"Just so heartbreaking. Just terribly heartbreaking that so many were lost," said Frances Burris.
"I was born and raised in Oklahoma. I've never seen anything this bad," said Army Reservist Sgt. Mike Bell.
Several children at Plaza Towers Elementary School lost their lives when the tornado struck their school, as teachers and students huddled for cover in closets and bathrooms.
"And I remember the little boy saying, 'I love you, Miss Crosswhite. Please don't let me die with you,' and I'm, like, 'We're not dying today'," said teacher Rhonda Crosswhite.
On Monday, students were counting down the days in their final week of class. After a day of experiencing the heartache, they are coming together as a community.