Severe Storms Slam Recovering Oklahoma City Area

Posted at 11:44 AM, May 23, 2013
05-20-13 Okla tornado damage

Oklahoma tornado damage

(CNN) — Pounding rain soaked tornado-ravaged Moore, Oklahoma, on Thursday morning, and winds sent pieces of debris flying, hindering recovery efforts three days after the devastating tornado.

The number of injured rose as authorities announced that 353 people were hurt in Monday’s massive twister. Another 24 were killed — 10 of them children, including two infants, the state medical examiner’s office said.

As water gushed through the streets Thursday, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the Oklahoma City area, including Moore, and a severe thunderstorm warning as well.

Predictions of heavy wind gusts also brought with them the possibility — though slight — of an isolated twister in the area.

A group of people who rode out Monday’s ferocious tornado in a bank vault huddled together under a tarp early Thursday near a CNN crew.

Conditions were expected to improve somewhat later in the morning. But more thunderstorms could be ahead for the region through Memorial Day weekend.

Mother’s instinct saves lives of 3 sons

Rebuilding is ‘the beginning of the healing process’

The two elementary schools destroyed by the EF5 tornado will be rebuilt, the incoming superintendent of Moore public schools told CNN Thursday.

“That’s the beginning of the healing process,” Robert Romines said.

The schools did not have storm shelters. At one of them, Plaza Towers Elementary, seven children died.

Six were 9-year-olds who died from asphyxia, or suffocation; one was an 8-year-old, killed by blunt force trauma, the state medical examiner’s office said.

Romines said he supports the effort to add storm shelters during the rebuilding. He called for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover it.

Other schools that were rebuilt after a 1999 tornado have such shelters, he said.

But numerous other schools don’t have shelters. “As funds become available, we will look at that,” Romines said, adding that money “is an obstacle.”

The school year was set to end Thursday.

High school commencement ceremonies will take place Saturday in downtown Oklahoma City, Romines said. The community, he said, will “do the best we can and make sure that our students are all taken care of.”

CNN’s Sean Morris, Judson Jones, Vivian Kuo, Jennifer Delgado and John Berman contributed to this report.