Hurricane Harbor

A writer and a tropical muse. A funky Lubavitcher who enjoys watching the weather, hurricanes, listening to music while enjoying life with a sense of humor and trying to make sense of it all!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"It's Because of the Cost" - - - Mayor of Moore, Oklahoma on Why No Storm Shelter ....

I'm staring at the TV watching coverage of the brave people who saved the children.. many their students and waited for their parents to come and get them... I am sure hoping that the parents were alive and it's so compelling and collectively as a nation we are watching and hoping for happy endings.

And, I am watching the scope of the devastation over a large area if you live in Moore, but a small area if you come from Miami and remember Hurricane Andrew.

And, I got to tell you...devastation is devastation and it looks the same everywhere when a worst case scenario happens and this will most likely go down as a F5 Tornado or borderline F4 and I remember another storm...that was a borderline Category 4 and upgraded later rightfully so to a Category 5.

Homestead after Hurricane Andrew:

Moore after yesterday's Tornado:

Does it really look that different? A disaster is a disaster.


  1. A sudden event, such as an accident or a natural catastrophe, that causes great damage or loss of life.
  2. Denoting a genre of films that use natural or accidental catastrophe as the mainspring of plot and setting.
calamity - catastrophe - misfortune - affliction

A disaster brings misery no matter where it is and no matter who was standing in the path of the natural catastrophe.

You can however try to minimize the damage and the death toll by trying your best to be informed on your own particular sort of storm and in Tornado Alley having a safe shelter for your school children is as important as opening the school shelters in Miami for families who don't have a safe place to ride out an approaching hurricane. And, yes no where is really safe as even in a shelter calamities can happen but you lower the odds and it is worth the cost.

Showing a map below of where several tornadoes tore a path of damage through the general Miami area and yes people died and those were a long time ago before the incredible weather prediction modeling and the warnings we receive on our cell phone via our Apps that tell us we are in danger. We live in a new amazing world where cities like Moore had SIXTEEN MINUTES of warning. Trust me in 1925 during the Tri-State Tornado Outbreak no one had such warning. And, in 1935 in the Florida Keys people went out for a ride for a picnic not aware that a Category 5 Hurricane was bearing down on them...and my friend's Aunt and her fiance got blown away.

We have come so far and we need to catch up with that awareness and knowledge and do a better job.

People keep asking me why there were no storm shelters to save the children at the elementary school where so many died.

The answer is simple. It's a matter of money. Today on the news the Mayor of the city of Moore stated that quite emphatically... it's a matter of money. And, I have to tell you that from my perspective that's just so sad and so wrong.

""It's Because of the Cost" - - - Mayor of Moore, Oklahoma"

Since May 1999, 14 long years ago, many people in Moore have spent the money to build storm shelters and that's a fact. The newer schools have shelters, the older ones don't. It's that simple.

From my perspective... if you live in a place in Tornado Alley that has had multiple hits in the short term then your main priority is to have an option for a Twister that might touch down.

It seems memory is short term. The first year or two after a tragedy everyone thinks on what to do if it happens again. Five years later you start thinking, "wouldn't it be nice to have a pool for the summer" or "we've always wanted to take that cruise to Alaska" and ten years later when it happens again everyone seems shocked and stunned all over again.

That is the same method of thinking be it a hurricane or a tornado, the human mind prioritizes things in accordance with recent memories and starts counting the odds the further away the painful memory gets.

It's sort of like the lotto. You hear that no one won and you know the payout is going to climb. You go about your week not thinking too much on it. The number climbs, the news media discusses the big pay out and how everyone is buying lotto tickets. Normally, you go and get a quick pick sort of one dollar ticket "just in case" but on your way to the grocery to pick up food for the weekend you walk inside Pubilx...see the long line, remember the news and suddenly you are standing there buying $5 or $10 or even $20 worth of tickets "just in case"

When it fades out of the news and life goes on the tough decisions are made. "Should we see how much a storm shelter would cost?" or "we really want to go visit Aunt Tillie and take that vacation now while she's still around and..."  The decision is made to take a vacation, the odds are in your favor. What's another year? Nothing will probably happen... and then it does. Hopefully,  you are out of town enjoying Aunt Tillie's special fudge and reliving memories when the tornado rips part of your house apart and destroys your neighborhood and your neighbors are gone with the wind. Of course, you could also be home wishing you had a storm shelter...

And, that's a personal decision not a collective one. Should I buy awnings this year in case of a hurricane or wait and just hope I have enough money to buy wood to put up on the windows if a storm hits. You got a tax refund and it's like found money. What do you do with it? Say you live in Miami Shores about two blocks from Biscayne Bay in an old 1920s house with big windows that let in the breeze in the winter and you told yourself you would buy rolladen shutters in case of a hurricane least for the top floor of the house that faces East towards the Bay but.. life got in the way.

This is not a decision that is only facing the hard working people of Moore Oklahoma. The dirt where I grew up gave way to a high water table when we would build tunnels to China as children... You go down 18 inches or 2 feet in Miami and there is water. It's a thin layer of dirt over coral rock and the Biscayne Aquifer that runs below it.. like a river underground. Luckily we don't need basements, but we do need protective coverings on our windows to keep the hurricane winds outside. And, in a Category 4 or 5 that rips your roof off shutters will help.

In North Carolina where I am today the ground is red clay and you'd think I live in Georgia. Why they get all the press about the red clay I don't know... The dirt is hard, not easy to dig down into and in Oklahoma it seems the dirt is more like stone than red clay or oozy, moist, damp dirt like in Miami. live in Oklahoma, in the middle of tornado alley and everyone has a story about one that trashed someone's life, church or bowling alley so it would seem to be a priority to build storm shelters for the children.

After May 1999 they were added into new schools. As the Mayor of Moore Glenn Lewis said "it's all a matter of money" and I will add it's a matter of priorities.

I'd rather my child have a school with a storm shelter than the best new technology or money for other perceived necessities.

You know... tornadoes ARE random and they happen EVERYWHERE. There was a tornado in Raleigh several years back, it skipped down Weathergreen (honest) and destroyed several homes. We are not prone to big F4 and F5 or even a moderately devastating F3 tornadoes. In North Miami Beach

Find your state and see how your home town has faired regarding tornado touchdowns.
CHECK YOUR STATE.............note some states have more and some have less, they can happen anywhere. But the big F4s and F5s happen usually in Tornado Alley.

Shortly before my ancestors had tobacco plantations in Quincy Florida there was a dealing tornado. Quincy, north of Tallahassee.
 SEP 10, 1882 9:00 pm 5 dead 8 injured
A hurricane-generated tornado destroyed tenant homes near Quincy, Gadsden County.

A year before the 1926 Hurricane in Miami at the height of the Florida Real Estate Boom there was a deadly rare tornado in a deadly tornado event in a deadly year in 1925.

APR 5, 1925 1:15 pm 5 dead 35 injured
A tornado moved northeast from the Everglades, SW of Hialeah, to eight miles north of Miami.

North Carolina, Raleigh...
NOV 28, 1988 1:00 AM 4 dead 154 injured
The funnel crossed the northwest part of Raleigh, New Hope, Justice, Ita, Halifax, and Jackson.

But, in Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plains and they are in the heart of the tornado country... often facing the beast up close and very personal it should be a priority.

And, if you live in Hurricane Country... you should have a plan for what to do and where to go in a hurricane vs "well, we'll deal with it when it happens" because weather happens fast and sometimes the money is not there to go get shutters or buy $300 of food and diapers that will get you through a few weeks of no power and no grocery stores being open down the road or up the road and maybe the road will have to be cleared because of fallen pines and oaks.

Remember this blog post in three months if your town is hit by a random, rare, strong hurricane that everyone told you "never happens round here" and remember that Hurricane Hugo far from the coast caused a rock slide that took down boulders the size of Winnebago's.

Savannah, a city I love so much, will have a hurricane one day. The bluff take a direct hit and wipe out the candy store and the lobby of the Bohemian Hotel, but the city will be devastated by fallen oaks and pines and the beautiful squares will be trashed and people will say "I didn't think it could happen here" and that goes for Tampa and Jacksonville and all those cities that have been lucky for so long.

To me ...this is all Deja Vu. It's Naranja and reminds me of parts of Homestead after Hurricane Andrew.

Stay safe, be informed always about the storms that frequent your area and always have a plan and in my opinion a Plan A and a Plan B are always good.

Something to think on not even ten days before the start of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Familiarize yourself with what you need to know. has links...go to them, use them...that is what they are there for..

Information on the Tropical Cyclones:  
  Hurricane Season:      From June 1 - November 30
A hurricane is a tropical cyclone, which generally forms in the tropics and is accompanied by thunderstorms and a counterclockwise circulation of winds. Tropical cyclones are classified as follows:
  Tropical Depression:  

Organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with defined surface circulation and max sustained winds of 38 mph or less.

  Tropical Storm:  

Organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph.


Intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation & max sustained winds of 74 mph or higher.
  What are some Hurricane Hazards?  
  Storm Surge:  

Water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm tide, which can increase the mean water level 15 feet or more.

  Inland Flooding:  

In the last 30 years, inland flooding has been responsible for more than half the deaths associated with tropical cyclones in the US.

  High Winds:  

Hurricane force winds can destroy poorly constructed buildings and mobile homes. Debris such as signs, roofing material, and small items left outside become flying missiles in hurricanes.


Hurricanes can produce tornadoes that add to the storm's destructive power. Tornados are most likely to occur in the right-front quadrant of the hurricane.

  What should I do with a Watch or Warning?  
-  When a Hurricane Watch is issued for your part of the coast this indicates the possibility that you could experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours. This watch should trigger your family's disaster plan, and proactive measures should be initiated especially those actions that require extra time such as securing a boat, leaving a barrier island, etc.
When a Hurricane Warning is issued for your part of the coast this indicates that sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 24 hours. Once this warning has been issued, your family should be in the process of completing proactive actions and deciding the safest location to be during the storm. 

Besos Bobbi (good link for people in Miami about tornadoes not  hurricanes. Note...if you live in Miami BUY SHUTTERS.. or anywhere in Florida or along the coast. It's your FIRST line of defense and no it may not save your home or life in a Category 4 or 5, but in a 1 or 2 or 3 it may... it's not a gamble it's a part of life living in Hurricane Country. (one of many good companies)


Post a Comment

<< Home