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!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Moore Oklahoma - 2 Dozen Children Feared Dead Inside the School. Search and RECOVERY.

The school is approximately where the red dot above was...

Okay, I really don't understand how things work in parts of the world far from where I have lived. I know it's a matter of the odds and that the last Moore Oklahoma Tornado in May of 1999 was said to be a once in a 400 year tornado. Then again, how many records do we really have from the locals who lived in Moore in 1613? I don't think a lot, so the best guess estimates of "one in" don't really mean a thing to be right now.

To be clear they heard noises and cries of children, the cries stopped. They use search and rescue dogs to help show where a person alive is... they have not found any. This is a developing tragedy, but 24 children are missing and they are trying to get to the victims who are presumed to be dead in the debris.

Before and after pics posted online of the area that was hit today by the Twister showing the devastation.

The totals that are being given out at Plaza Towers Elementary School are slowly edging their way up from two dozen to possibly up to thirty and then add in the teachers... it's going to make the Newton School Massacre pale in comparison by the numbers. Mother Nature on the rampage or Father Devil I don't know which and it doesn't matter... children are dead and we let them down from my perspective.

The missing children who are presumed to be dead are buried under a 10 foot wall of debris.

In many parts of the country we close schools for predicted blizzards that barely show any snow. We close school for hurricanes that never happen. Why do we not close school on days when the probability within a certain region is so high that every storm chaser friend I have who could took off work and hit the road knowing today would be the day. Especially after yesterday.

Yes, I know it's a big financial decision to cancel school, parents work and need school to babysit as well as teach. In Miami it's a big decision to shut down schools and in our case we have to shut down schools if we will use the schools as shelters. School days need to be made up. In Raleigh they call school late many times during the winter and kids need not show up until 11 AM based on worries of Raleigh drivers unable to drive on snow or black ice.

They spend a fortune salting the roads in case of the snow that often never falls.

WHY.............why........ oh why when there is such a high chance of tornadoes a few days a year on the level of today's out break is there not some station like here in Raleigh where everyone is told to check the website and see if they will or won't cancel school or make it a late day.

Tornadoes do not happen early in the morning, almost never. Why couldn't they have made an early release when the reports were evident that tornadoes would race across the land there razing brick homes and digging the grass off the lawns along with the brick homes.

This is not rocket science...this is reality biting and reality does bite.

By 9 AM... 10 AM... even 11 AM it was evident that storms would form. Why not make an early release and let the parents come get the students... just in case?

Is this some sort of Pioneer spirit out on the prairie where we roll with the punches and keep a stiff upper lip and hope for the best and tell kids to hide in a hallway that has some reinforcement when the roof will be lifted up and carried away leaving the children buried under rubble?

I just don't understand, but I do understand that this is a budgeting decision on some level and someone needs to step up to the plate and make changes in the way things are done.

So kids will miss English and maybe Art and they may not get to football practice...and life will go on but their lives will go on.  Yes, many kids and parents died in their homes nearby, but at least they had a chance rather than sitting in some classroom at the mercy of teachers who are at the mercy of the school board and their emergency plans and prayers for miracles.

And, have heard today of teachers who sacrificed their lives covering their children's bodies with their own... those teachers should have been given the chance to go home early or stayed home. People did survive this tornado...they ran, they hid... they survived. At least not holed up in school waiting for some official to make a decision...........they had a chance and so would the students. They did decide to evacuate the children and they were working their way down. The 4th, 5th and 6th graders were taken to a stronger building...the 3rd graders and pre-schoolers were stuck behind. Explain me that one? Wouldn't you have started with the younger ones and worked your way up? I've had a lot of kids, usually you protect the youngest who are more reliant on us and well... it just seems a lose, lose, lose decision all around to send the kids to school when you keep them home in New England for blizzards and Tampa for tropical trouble.

It's time to be proactive and realistic and figure out how to cancel school on days when tornadoes will most likely happen....or at least make an early release.

Years ago............our radars were not as good and our live time reports from storm chasers on cell phones did not exist. In the 1950s and the 1960s and the 1970s and even the 1980s... we did not have the data nor did we have the weather modeling that we have no from computers. Tornadoes were the "finger of God" in that they jjust suddenly happened. That is no longer true.

Anyone and everyone from Miami to Seattle was watching in real time on TWC today and on Twitter and other places where people watch as the situation was developing the way the weather models predicted they might. Things have changed, you don't have to wait to hear the freight train to know that there is a high possibility of your town being wiped out by an approaching tornado and yet we are still acting like we did years ago when other children died in their schools as a tornado crashed a wall of bricks down on them or the roof of the gym caved in.
A list of schools damaged by storms and of students dying.. here are a few:

August 28, 1990 - Plainfield, IL. Courtesy of NWS Chicago/Romeoville, IL.
  • An F5 tornado hit Plainfield High School one day before classes were to begin. The football team was practicing on the field and the volleyball team was in the gym. The football coach ordered the team indoors because of lightning. They all survived. A custodian and teacher were killed though. The tornado also severely damaged a Catholic school and an elementary school but there no students in either building. The elementary school was rebuilt with zig-zagging hallways (no long straight wind tunnels), and lots of safe interior spaces.
November 16, 1989 - Newburgh, NY.
  • A downburst blew in windows, doors, and a cinder block wall of a school cafeteria killing 9 children and injuring 21.
May 4, 1978 - Clearwater, FL (Highpoint Elem. School). Courtesy of NWS Tallahassee, FL.
  • A tornado struck during a school day killing 3 children and injuring nearly 100 others. Property damage totaled close to $4 million.

(interestingly published this morning, it must have been on someone's I said we were talking online this morning about the issue of why schools are not cancelled on days like today)

"Published: 2:00 AM - 05/20/13
Friday, November 17, 1989
Seven schoolchildren were killed yesterday when a tornado tore through a cafeteria wall at East Coldenham Elementary School.
Nineteen others were injured, some seriously, in the second-worst disaster in the history of New York state schools, authorities said.

``It was total disaster. It was hell, it was living hell,'' said Assistant Fire Chief Bud Sharp, in charge at the accident for Coldenham Fire Department. ``The poor kids were eating lunch and 2 to 4 tons of masonry fell on them.'' All children were accounted for by late afternoon, state police said.
About 120 children - mostly first- and second-graders - were eating a lunch of lasagna about 12:30 p.m. when a tornado rolled from the south across Route 17K.
The twister uprooted a large willow tree, churned along the school's driveway and bore down on the cafeteria, witnesses said. Many of the school's 254 students heard a high-pitched whistling sound and the walls of the 29-year-old school began to shake.
``I was just sitting there and all of a sudden the wall caved in,'' said second-grader Michael Miller Jr., 7, who was eating in the rear of the cafeteria-auditorium."

"The F4 tornado that struck Belvidere caused one of the highest tornado-related death tolls in a single school building and was featured in an episode of The Weather Channel's Storm Stories."

Another tragedy does not need to happen. We have an awesome array of meteorological data and modeling in real time and it's time for us to change the way we take precautions for Twisters. Plain and simple. It is time to make changes.  Cancel school or cancel it at Noon or 1 PM. Almost all of these historic events happened in the afternoon.

Let us learn from this...

Yes, we cannot yet control weather and if we could it might have other ramifications. But, we have come so far in our knowledge and our ability to predict severe weather outbreaks. It's time for us to rethink how we perceive tornadoes.

I'd rather keep a kid home, bake cookies with him or watch an old movie with her or spend some quality time with them and lose a days work then ... send them to school on a day when I know deep down that severe weather most likely will happen and just hope for the best.

Our children deserve more...

And, yes I understand hurricanes better than tornadoes... but I have gone to the beach many a day with a child when the storm stayed off shore and watched the waves safely and lost the days work and kept the child home than taken the chance that they would be fine and it wouldn't be a problem. My kids, my choice... my illusion of control as a parent but one I like to hold on to.

Prayers for everyone who has suffered from this tragedy both online, offline, down the block or around the corner from Moore Oklahoma.

Besos Bobbi
Ps... the powers that be on TV pulled tonight's episde of Mike and Molly which was a season finale show that revolved around a tornado in Chicago. If we can pull a TV show so it doesn't offend anyone, why can't we cancel school at 1PM before the Tornado hits and kills the students who may have had a fighting chance hiding in their bathroom with their family or in a basement in their house or a neighbors house.......


At 6:12 PM, Blogger sharon rudd said...

So sad and so true. Everyone from the Weather Channel said it was not a storm to be survived above ground. So in addition to your question, my question is why do schools not have storm shelters attached to them?


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