Shelby: Moore, Oklahoma lies right in the middle of what is known as Tornado Alley. It is an area that stretches from North Texas to South Dakota in the southern Plains of the United States. Tornado Alley has been the site of some of the deadliest twisters ever recorded, including Monday’s monster storm.
The National Weather Service has categorized that storm as an EF5. That is the highest level on a scale that measures both wind speed and damage, and it means winds on Monday topped 200 miles an hour.
We met up with a teen whose home was devastated by Monday’s monster tornado.
Keirsten Bracelin: You can barely even tell there were homes here.
Shelby: Which house was yours?
Keirsten: The one with the trampoline actually still there.
Shelby: This is what is left of Keirsten Bracelin’s neighborhood.
Keirsten: It’s just crazy. I don’t even know, like, how to even explain it. I mean, I literally used to live right there. Then you just see it all gone.
This is where – used to be our little office, pretty much. As you can tell, it’s pretty much gone. Some of the rooms – this one was messed up pretty bad.
Shelby: Whose room is this?
Keirsten: This is Marissa’s room. And we were actually…we came here after the tornado and we were trying, you know, to get some stuff and the ceiling fan actually just completely fell.
Shelby: While you were here?
Shelby: Four days after the storm, Keirsten and her family are trying to recover anything that was left behind.
Keirsten: I’m trying to get all my clothes. I mean, everything. All my pictures, all my medals. I had a bunch of medals in here. My yearbooks, because you definitely can’t replace those. I had a bunch of pictures. Like I said I was in FFA and, like, you can’t replace those memories. I mean, anything. Just pictures. Just stuff like that.
Shelby: Even though some of her stuff is gone, Keirsten says she is just lucky none of her family members were killed.
Keirsten: And it’s creepy too because we literally always come here when there’s a tornado. And I mean, if it was even delayed twenty minutes, I would have been here when that tornado hit. I would have been home by myself.
Shelby: Others in Moore weren’t as fortunate. Monday’s tornado claimed a total of twenty-four lives, including ten children, and injured more than 300 people.
And authorities say the clean up here could cost $2 billion dollars. Recovery efforts here in Moore are going to take a long time. As you can see, there is debris absolutely everywhere. It has been thrown all over this town. And there are cars, like this one, just absolutely mangled all over the place.
Yesterday, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano visited Moore to make sure those helping with rescue and relief efforts are getting what they need.
Secretary Janet Napolitano: At some point the cameras will leave; the national ones will leave first then the local ones. But on behalf of President Obama, and on behalf of FEMA, we will be here to stay until this recovery is complete. So you have our commitment on that.
Shelby: As for Keirsten and her family, the recovery process is just beginning.
Keirsten: You just kind of, like, keep it together because you see those houses. And I mean, it’s completely leveled. And I have a friend who lost her mom. And I just can’t even imagine what they’re going through. So, I’m just thankful my house is somewhat, you know, here and I have all my family.
Shelby: As the people here in Moore are just beginning their long road to recovery, support from around the world has been pouring into the town.
- What are the first steps in putting a community’s life back together after a natural disaster?
- Is damage you can see the only kind of damage left by a tornado? Why or why not?