Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tornado tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Surely you've all heard by now, all seen the images coming from the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore:

A giant tornado, a mile wide or more, killed at least 51 people, 20 of them children, as it tore across parts of Oklahoma City and its suburbs Monday afternoon, flattening homes, flinging cars through the air and crushing at least two schools. 

The injured flooded into hospitals, and the authorities said many people remained trapped, even as rescue workers struggled to make their way through debris-clogged streets to the devastated suburb of Moore, where much of the damage occurred.

Amy Elliott, the spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City medical examiner, said at least 51 people had died, including the children, and officials said that toll was likely to climb. Hospitals reported at least 145 people injured, 70 of them children.

Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore was reduced to a pile of twisted metal and toppled walls. Rescue workers were able to pull several children from the rubble, but on Monday evening crews were still struggling to cut through fallen beams and clear debris amid reports that dozens of students were trapped. At Briarwood Elementary School in Oklahoma City, on the border with Moore, cars were thrown through the facade and the roof was torn off. 

It's hard to know what to say at a time like this. It reached a point earlier tonight when I just had to turn away from the news coverage, watching a couple of Seinfeld episodes, then Veep, just to clear my head.

Children... schools... lives lost... so many injured... a community devastated.

One of Oklahoma's senators, Republican Tom Coburn, is already playing politics, appallingly (but not surprisingly) saying he'll only support relief aid if it's offset by cuts elsewhere. Yes, disaster relief is apparently one of those things you have to negotiate with Republicans. (Okay, we'll help you out a bit, but only if we fuck some other people elsewhere.) Chris Christie understandably went ballistic when Republicans did this in response to Hurricane Sandy. But who will speak for the people of Oklahoma?

I hope we all do. I really do.

Fuck your right-wing fiscal agenda, Republicans. People have died, people are hurt, people need food and shelter. They need help, for fuck's sake.

They don't need Republicans -- and a senator from the very state that is suffering! -- using this tragedy to score political points.



Here are a few images of the devastation from the Times:

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