The monster tornado that devastated the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore killed 24 people and produced billions of dollars of damage.
There are crucial questions that policymakers in Washington and throughout the country need to address because these storms, like Superstorm Sandy that hit the New Jersey coast last November, are only going to get worse if we ignore the facts.
First, we need a national windstorm insurance fund like the national flood insurance program to spread the cost of reconstruction when such storms hit. It can be tailored into a catastrophic fund that includes other types of natural disasters like earthquakes.
Second, the type of fierce, erratic storms we are experiencing throughout the country are linked to the high carbon-dioxide levels from fossil fuels that are heating up the Earth’s climate and changing weather patterns. Drilling for more oil and other carbon sources is to our detriment. The United States needs to invest more to improve other types of energy, like solar and wind, to expand their capacity while making them affordable sources.
The immediate needs of Moore’s residents, however, must take precedence over these policy questions.
The EF-5 tornado, at the top of the scale of severity, packed winds of up to 210 mph and cut a swath 17 miles long over 40 minutes. It demolished an estimated 12,000 homes and reduced two schools — Plaza Towers and Briarwood elementary schools — to piles of rubble.
There were many heroes who risked their lives to save those buried under the rubble. Teachers certainly stood out as true heroes, quickly jamming children into closets and bathroom stalls when the warning siren blared, and sheltering children in their arms as the tornado hit. Teachers rushed to lift children out of dangerous piles once the tornado left. Seven children died from the twister’s carnage, but many more were saved thanks to teachers’ quick thinking.
This is a critical time to help the families of Moore. Several charities, including the American Red Cross and Catholic Charities, are collecting funds to help families left homeless.
In Miami-Dade County, United Way, in partnership with The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald, has activated Operation Helping Hands for relief and rebuilding efforts in the affected communities.
To contribute, go to iwant2help.org or send a check to Operation Helping Hands, c/o United Way of Miami-Dade, P.O. Box 459007, Miami, 33245. All of the funds will go directly to help tornado victims.