President Obama declared a major disaster in the state of Oklahoma after a devastating tornado hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, causing extensive damage.
The tornado, tentatively categorized by the National Weather Service as an EF-4, claimed the lives of at least 91 people, including 20 children.
The president’s major disaster declaration means that federal funding will be made available to affected individuals in Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie Counties.
Federal funding assistance will include grands for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured properties, and other programs to help individuals and businesses recover from the devastating twister.
President Obama’s Oklahoma disaster declaration follows a conversation he had with the state’s Governor Mary Fallin directly after the deadly tornado hit. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has already deployed a special team to the state’s emergency operations center to assist.
FEMA has said that damage surveys are ongoing in other areas and more counties could be designated at a later time. But before recovery can happen, search and rescue operations are still underway in Moore and surrounding areas, where the massive wedge tornado dug a path at least a mile wide.
The massive twister hit two elementary schools and a medical center head on, along with several neighborhoods. It decimated homes and businesses, tearing them off their foundations. At least seven children drowned at one elementary school while the other reported injuries but no fatalities.
The Moore tornado cut off communications and took out a water treatment plant, leaving the suburb without running water or cell phone service to let loved ones know they are okay. As a result, the Red Cross has offered its website while Facebook groups and Twitter hashtags were also started.
The Red Cross is also asking for donations to help in the recovery and relief operations in Moore, Oklahoma. Meanwhile, the massive storm string that spawned the fatal tornado has moved on to Chicago, Illinois where it sparked massive thunderstorms.
[Image via Twitter]