Oklahoma’s Lt. Governor Todd Lamb has praised the overwhelming response of volunteers after a mile-wide tornado struck parts of the state, causing wide-spread devastation. “Within an hour and a half we were at max capacity of volunteers in Moore, Oklahoma and parts of Oklahoma City,” the Governor declared in an interview with ABC News.
Lauding Oklahoma’s residents for their bravery and support, the Governor stated: “We have a resilient people; a very tough, a very strong people; a very faith-based people and, once again, we see neighbour helping neighbour – people just showing up to help”.
“People wanted to come, show up and help those in need,” he said, stressing “they might not know them, they may not be related to them, but the fact that they’re neighbours in Oklahoma – people want to help”.
51 lives were initially reported to have been taken, but the number has been reviewed down to 24. The tornado, which has been rated at the highest strength level of EF-5, caused harrowing devastation across Moore and Oklahoma City on Monday afternoon.
But the Governor praised the state’s early warning systems, shelters and “first-rate” meteorologists, noting: “as much destruction as we’re looking at right now… loss of life would have been much greater without those three significant warning systems.”
Two elementary schools, Plaza Towers Elementary and Briarwood Elementary, were severely impacted by the tornado in the Oklahoma City area. But one brave unnamed teacher in Plaza Towers Elementary, which was flattened by the storm, has been lauded for heroically risking her life by shielding six of her young students with her body.
Amid the devastation and debris, a Facebook group was created to reunite the tornado’s victims with their belongings. Leslie Hagelberg of West Tulsa set up a page on the social media site, which has so far brought together over 7,000 members volunteering their help and supplies and reaching out for information and assistance.
US President Barack Obama signed an Oklahoma Disaster Declaration in the wake of the tragedy making federal funding available to aid individuals in affected counties by granting temporary housing, home repairs, loans to cover uninsured property losses and other initiatives helping residents and business owners recover from the impact of the disaster.