Wednesday, May 22, 2013

what went wrong in Oklahoma?

I'm in shock that a massive tornado barreled through an Oklahoma City suburb on Monday, May 20, killing over 50 people, half of whom were just children. The tornado generated winds of up to 200 miles per hour; it tore a jagged swath of debris and destruction wherever it touched down.

What I want to know is: how could so many people die in Oklahoma? There's something very upsetting and confusing about all this, and I want to know what went wrong. Okies are no strangers to tornadoes; surely they have shelters in place, they practice tornado drills, they use early-warning systems... but when two dozen children die, I have to wonder whether, on some basic level, the people weren't ready. Such a death toll can only happen when people are caught by surprise. Were their shelters not protective enough? Did the early-warning system fail to alert citizens in the path of the tornado?

By all rights, there should have been zero deaths. What the hell happened?



Sperwer said...

The school did not have a shelter.

John from Daejeon said...

As someone with a home in both tornado and hurricane country, many things do go wrong and will only get worse as the population increases.

A lot of it is complacency and the constant over-hyping of storms by weather psychics who are wrong more than they are right. After a while, you begin to think of the weather as South Koreans think of North Koreans, they can occasionally be dangerous, but are, for the most part, just weak winded. All those constant alarms and warnings start to become just background noise as you've been through this same scenario countless times before and nothing ever happened before--what makes this one any different than all those previous ones that ended up being nothing at all.

However, monster tornadoes are definitely different. They can spring up instantly. Anywhere. At any time. How does anyone prepare for that?

And when there are warnings, most schools weren't designed as tornado/hurricane, earthquake, nuclear bomb shelters, etc. They are just as prone to major catastrophes as any other place in the U.S.

Did any of your schools have such shelters in place? None of mine did. It doesn't help that such preventative measures are expensive to build and keep up, but in true emergencies, there are the possibilities of injuries, and deaths, in choke points to get in, and out of, the shelter that make administrators think the liabilities of such shelters don't weigh more than the benefits of that one in a million situation when it may actually be utilized during school hours.

It is what it is, an act of "god," if you believe in that nonsense, or just another day of life on planet Earth where, not so long ago, we were living in caves to escape the, occasionally dangerous, elements that make up its atmosphere.

John from Daejeon said...

Some info. about the shelter situation in OK.

Bratfink said...

Welcome home. It was hard keeping up with you while you were gone!

Elisson said...

When you're dealing with a storm that is capable of scraping all evidence of human habitation off the surface of the earth - as this one did in places - the real question is, how is it that more were not killed?

You can hunker down and hide in the bathtub, or deep in your storm cellar... but a two-mile-wide EF5 storm can still get to you. Yeef.

John from Daejeon said...

I don't know if you've seen this.

This is from the city's website, and bottom of the article,--"While bemoaning the delay in getting the grants, the unsigned statement played down the need for safe rooms, saying Moore has no community or public tornado shelters because people “face less risk . . . in a reasonably well-constructed residence.” The city’s website also said that Moore faced only a “1-2 percent” chance of a tornado hitting the town on any spring day, and that if a tornado did strike, there was less than a 1 percent chance of it being as strong as the one that swept through town in May 1999 and killed three people."