While the traditional tornado season is beginning a little late this year, Monday's devastation in Oklahoma should indicate the season won't be any less severe.
The death toll in Moore, Okla., remains in a state of flux. As of this morning, the state medical examiner's office reported 24 confirmed fatalities. Earlier, authorities had suggested 51. No matter the final count, the community south of Oklahoma City likely is fortunate it wasn't higher.
The EF-4 class tornado, at least half a mile wide and packing winds up to 200 mph, started churning through Moore about 3 p.m. Schools were hit as was a hospital. Entire neighborhoods were flattened. Search and rescue efforts continued overnight and through today in the suburb that has been struck by four tornadoes and one twister since 1998.
Gov. Mary Fallin has deployed the Oklahoma National Guard and President Barack Obama declared the area a major disaster. Federal aid has been ordered to help the state and local recovery efforts.
We remain hopeful the death toll doesn't rise too much more. And we are pleased the federal response is concentrated on assistance, despite the state's two U.S. senators consistently voting against funding the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn also voted against relief for those affected by Hurricane Sandy last year. Perhaps the massive aid package delivered to their state will convince these two hypocrites that not all federal government is detrimental by nature. We doubt it, but who knows?
In the meantime, the deadly tornado should remind the rest of us living in storm-prone areas to be vigilant -- and prepared. A tornado passing through Ellis County over the weekend topple trees and little else. We can't always count on being so fortunate.
Ensure you have access to NOAA Weather Radio or at least have commercial radio or television broadcasting the latest information. Have an emergency plan in place so the entire family knows where to go for safety, how to contact each other if separated, where to rendezvous if needed, and what to do during the event.
FEMA also recommends having a disaster supplies kit prepared in advance. Basic necessities such as food, water, batteries, a flashlight, First Aid kit, and other items should be kept in or near the safety zone you've designated.
Every place one resides carries the risk of natural disasters. This region of the country happens to be most vulnerable to tornadoes. The season has begun. Through individual preparation and collective recovery efforts if needed, we'll get through this one as well.
For now, our thoughts are with those affected by the deadly tornado that struck Moore, Okla.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry