The Norman Transcript


May 26, 2013

What more can we do?



Many people had nowhere to go. After May 3, Oklahoma created a rebate program for people who built shelters, and hundreds of people took advantage. Perhaps that saved lives on Monday.

Then there were issues over shelters at public venues. Meteorologists have long feared that a violent tornado would hit a sporting event, a shopping mall or a school. On May 20, the fear became real. The destruction of Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children died, is prompting calls for more safe rooms.

After May 3, Bridge Creek Public Schools, southwest of Oklahoma City, expanded its elementary school and all new rooms were reinforced as safe rooms. Kelly Elementary in Moore, also destroyed on May 3, was rebuilt to include safe rooms.

Another lesson from May 3 stemmed from a Texas Tech University study that attracted little interest from state officials. Housing construction was of such poor quality that some homes were destroyed, not by the tornado itself, but by the less-powerful force of inflow, the ground-level winds being pulled into the base of the tornado.

Hurricane straps that secure rafters and anchor bolts that secure the frame can make a difference, especially against less powerful tornadoes. But these also add to home costs.

Construction quality is one reason the Fujita Scale was reassessed after May 3. The Fujita Scale imperfectly measured tornado wind speed based on damage. Damage surveyors had long suspected it took a lot less wind speed to wipe a home off its foundation, and construction quality varies. After 1999, experts created the Enhanced Fujita Scale, or EF scale, which significantly lowered the wind speeds attributed to violent tornadoes and took into account construction quality.

Perhaps the biggest problem is one that forecasters and lawmakers can’t fix: public inaction. As KFOR Meteorologist Mike Morgan implored viewers on May 20, “You cannot delay. You can’t think. You can’t delay. You’ve got to act ...You’ve got to act to save your life and your loved ones’ lives.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Senior organizations that appeal to conservatives

    Dear Savvy Senior, Can you recommend any advocacy organizations for seniors other than AARP? I cut up my AARP card a few years back when they supported Obamacare and am now looking for another organization that better represents me....

    July 29, 2014

  • Seniors adjust to different sleep patterns

    According to the National Institutes of Health, older adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. However, sleep patterns change with age; this is often evident in the nursing home population. Frequent causes of interrupted sleep ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Ceremony marks opening of community center

    A July 23 ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the addition of another feature to the Chickasaw Nation Carter service campus in Ardmore....

    July 27, 2014

  • Chickasaw Cultural Center a terrific place to visit

    SULPHUR — The Chickasaw Cultural Center is a magnificent tribute to a proud people and their storied heritage. Located an easy hour’s drive south from Norman, it’s among the finest travel destinations in Oklahoma. Set on 109 scenic acres, ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Prisoner re-entry planning for offenders with mental illness

    People leaving incarceration face a variety of challenges even without a diagnosis of mental illness. But for those who face mental health issues, re-entry into society can be troublesome. That is the topic in the first of the 2014 Fall ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Exhibit takes families on food expedition

    If your palate enjoys culinary diversity or if you’re interested in introducing new flavors to your family, join the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in tasting international delights and create your own treat during Family ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Resident makes art in new home

    There’s an old saying about a picture being “worth a thousand words,” which took on a literal meaning recently....

    July 27, 2014

  • Parents should work on themselves first

    I absolutely love it when people begin to realize that the problems they’re having with a child are of their own making; when they begin to realize, in other words, that the child is not the problem — they are. All this time (however long ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Helping cat with first veterinarian visit

    Dear Dr. Fox: A stray kitty adopted me a couple months ago and has since been tamed enough that I have found a vet to neuter him and do some much-needed dental work. My fear is that the poor boy will be so traumatized by this ordeal that ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Veterans Corner needs volunteer to drive residents to OKC VA

    Veterans Corner volunteer of the week David Sudduth has been with us for the last eight years. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who served during the Vietnam War. David and his wife, Carolyn, have had their home in the Newalla area ...

    July 23, 2014