‘I kept my hope the whole time’
Wednesday, may 22, 2013
91st year, no. 195 © 2013
Beyond The Caprock
‘We will rebuild’
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WEDNESDAY, MAY 22, 2013 A1
Mother of Hailey Dunn talks about her daughter who was found dead in March. A9
Law keeps lesbian pair from living together
associated press photos
Storm clouds build in the distance beyond tornado-ravaged homes Tuesday, May 21, in Moore, Okla. In the inset photo, Amy Sharp hugs her daughter Jenna, 10, a day after Sharp picked up her children from Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, which was leveled by a tornado packing winds of up to 200 mph.
Schools keep eyes, ears open
nation/Death toll at 24 as search winds down in Oklahoma town hit by monster tornado; governor laments loss, cites resilience BY CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN and SEAN MURPHY
lubbock/Safety in tornado season enhanced by watching, planning
MOORE, Okla. — Helmeted rescue workers raced Tuesday to complete the search for survivors and the dead in the Oklahoma City suburb where a mammoth tornado destroyed countless homes, cleared lots down to bare red earth and claimed 24 lives, including those of nine children. Scientists concluded the storm was a rare and extraordinarily powerful type of twister known as an EF5, ranking it at the top of the scale used to measure tornado strength. Those twisters are capable SEE MOORE, page A8
Want More? HOW YOU can help. PAGE A10 LUBBOCK RESIDENTS reach out to relatives hit by storm. PAGE A10 HOW TO SURVIVE a tornado. PAGE A10 TEACHERS HELPED save students during tornado. PAGE A11 GEORGE WATSON: Heading into OKC brings sense of deja vu. PAGE A11 TEXAS SEARCH TEAM, Xcel crews to help in Oklahoma. PAGE A11 TORNADO CHANGES schedule, darkens mood at Big 12 baseball tournament in Oklahoma City. PAGE D1 ADDITIONAL PHOTOS at lubbockonline.com and A-J on iPad.
Lubbock real estate agents had their best April on record, and buyers are still showing up in what’s become a seller’s market. Agents closed 354 sales last month with a total dollar volume of more than $52.72 million, according to figures released Monday, May 20, by the Lubbock Association of
ASSOCIATED PRESS For more state, nation and world news, see pages A2-6, 9-13 and B3.
2 Things Inside (That will make you smarter) Food drive to help restock South Plains Food Bank’s depleted supplies. Page B1 Savvy Shopper: Get great deals on supplies for Memorial Day cookout. Page E1
In Tomorrow’s A-J
Originally appeared on lubbockonline.com
BY RAY WESTBROOK a-j media
teorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Lubbock, said being prepared for a storm is each citizen’s personal responsibility. “We have contacted Robertson the director of (emergency management),” Robertson said. “We’re asking people to get
In tornado season, the Lubbock Independent School District and area schools watch over the well-being of their students with an eye on the clouds and an electronic connection with the National Weather Service. Nancy Sharp, director of communications and community relations at LISD, said about a dozen staff members who are on the Superintendent’s Leadership Team are signed up to receive weather alerts from the NWS that go directly to their computers or phones. “When the weather service can anticipate severe weather, they send an alert out that we all get.”
SEE ALERT, page A7
SEE SCHOOLS, page A8
Jim Stubblefield of Norman, Okla., raises a tattered flag he found while helping his sister salvage items from her tornado-ravaged home Tuesday, May 21, in Moore, Okla.
Without sirens, Lubbock weighs emergency notification options BY Chris Hoff a-j media
In the aftermath of deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, Lubbock city and county officials are taking a fresh look at their ability to notify area residents of emergencies. Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson said the discussion comes up after every disaster. Sirens, like those in Moore, Okla., have been discussed in the past. But Justin Weaver, me-
Home sales set April records as market ‘comes alive’ BY WALT NETT
MCKINNEY — A judge has ruled a North Texas lesbian couple can’t live together because of a morality clause in the divorce papers of one of the women. The clause is common in divorce cases in Texas and other states. It prevents a divorced parent from having a romantic partner spend the night while children are in the home. If the couple marries, they can get out from under the legal provision, but that is not an option for gay couples in Texas. The Dallas Morning News reported that in a divorce hearing last month for Carolyn and Joshua Compton, Collin County District Judge John Roach Jr. ordered Carolyn Compton’s partner to move out of the home they shared with the Comptons’ two daughters.
Originally appeared on lubbockonline.com
Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service. The closings number was 26.4 percent ahead of the 280 closings in April 2012, and about one-third greater than the dollar volume of $39.48 million for the month. Coby Crump, the Realtors’ president for this year, said
the city is coming off a relatively flat year. “The market has come alive, bringing our inventory down with higher-thanusual demand,” Crump said. Crump He noted interest rates appear to be a factor in keeping the market moving, SEE HOMES, page A7
By the numbers April existing home sales in Lubbock since 2004 Year Sold Dollar volume 2013 354 $52,722,954 2012 280 $39,472,775 2011 233 $32,230,242 2010 321 $44,003,147 2009 289 $39,285,000 2008 322 $43,295,000 2007 285 $33,760,000 2006 289 $34,610,000 2005 300 $37,660,000 2004 247 $28,940,000 Source: Real Estate Data Center, Texas A&M University
Coverage of the news conference introducing new Lady Raiders coach Candace Whitaker. SECTION A
Words Of Inspiration Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. (Proverbs 3:27) Sara Placencia, Lubbock
On The Outside Weather Mostly sunny
High: 92 Low: 64 Tomorrow: Breezy with some sun and a high of 93.
Find It Inside Bridge................ C7 Classified...... C1-8 Comics..............D5 Crossword........D5 Dear Abby.........E2 Editorial.............A4 Food................E1, 3 Gardening........ E4 Heloise...............E2 Horoscope.......D5 Jumble...............C8 Life...................E1-4
Local.......... B1-2, 4 Lottery............... B2 Markets............. B2 Obituaries........ B3 Records............. B2 Savvy Shopper....E1 Sports........D1-4, 6 Sudoku..............C8 Things To Do... B2 Weather............ B2
WEDNESDAY, MAY 22, 2013 LUBBOCK AVALANCHE-JOURNAL
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WEDNESDAY, MAY 22, 2013 A8
moore: Twister on ground 40 minutes, winds at least 200 mph FROM page A1 of lifting reinforced buildings off the ground, hurling cars like missiles and stripping trees completely free of bark. Residents of Moore began returning to their homes a day after the tornado smashed some neighborhoods into jagged wood scraps and gnarled pieces of metal. In place of their houses, many families found only empty lots. After nearly 24 hours of searching, the fire chief said he was confident there were no more bodies or survivors in the rubble. “I’m 98 percent sure we’re good,” Gary Bird said at a news conference with the governor, who had just completed an aerial tour of the disaster zone. Authorities were so focused on the search effort they had yet to establish the full scope of damage along the storm’s long, ruinous path. They did not know how many homes were gone or how many families had been displaced. Emergency crews had trouble navigating devastated neighborhoods because there were no street signs left. Some rescuers used smartphones or
GPS devices to guide them through areas with no recognizable landmarks. The death toll was revised downward from 51 after the state medical examiner said some victims may have been counted twice in the confusion. More than 200 people were treated at area hospitals. By Tuesday afternoon, every damaged home had been searched at least once, Bird said. His goal was to conduct three searches of each building just to be certain there were no more bodies or survivors. The fire chief was hopeful that could be completed before nightfall, but the work was being hampered by heavy rain. Crews also continued a brick-by-brick search of the rubble of a school that was blown apart with many children inside. No additional survivors or bodies had been found since Monday night, Bird said. Survivors emerged with harrowing accounts of the storm’s wrath, which many endured as they shielded loved ones. Chelsie McCumber grabbed her 2-year-old son, Ethan, wrapped him in jackets and covered him with a mattress before they
This Tuesday, May 21, aerial photo shows, from bottom to top, the path Monday’s deadly tornado took through Moore, Okla. The huge tornado roared through the Oklahoma City suburb, flattening entire neighborhoods and destroying an elementary school. squeezed into a coat closet of their house. McCumber sang to her child when he complained it was getting hot inside the small space. “I told him we’re going to play tent in the closet,” she said, beginning to cry.
“I just felt air so I knew the roof was gone,” she said Tuesday, standing under the sky where her roof should have been. The home was littered with wet, gray insulation and all of their belongings.
“Time just kind of stood still” in the closet, she recalled. “I was kind of holding my breath thinking this isn’t the worst of it. I didn’t think that was it. I kept waiting for it to get worse.” “When I got out, it was worse than I thought,” she said. Gov. Mary Fallin lamented the loss of life, especially the children who were killed, but she celebrated the town’s resilience. “We will rebuild, and we will regain our strength,” Fallin said. In describing the bird’seye view of the damage, the governor said many houses were “taken away,” leaving “just sticks and bricks, basically. It’s hard to tell if there was a structure there or not.” From the air, large stretches of town could be seen where every home had been cut to pieces. Some homes were sucked off their concrete slabs. A pond was filled with piles of wood and an overturned trailer. Also visible were large patches of red earth where the tornado scoured the land down to the soil. Some tree trunks were still standing, but the winds ripped away
their leaves, limbs and bark. In revising its estimate of the storm’s power, the National Weather Service said the tornado had winds of at least 200 mph and was on the ground for 40 minutes. The agency upgraded the tornado from an EF4 on the enhanced Fujita scale based on reports from a damage-assessment team, said spokeswoman Keli Pirtle. Monday’s twister was at least a half-mile wide. It was the nation’s first EF5 tornado of 2013. Other search-and-rescue teams concentrated on Plaza Towers Elementary, where the storm ripped off the roof, knocked down walls and destroyed the playground as students and teachers huddled in hallways and bathrooms. Seven of the nine dead children were killed at the school, but several students were pulled alive from under a collapsed wall and other heaps of mangled debris. Rescue workers passed the survivors down a human chain of parents and neighborhood volunteers. Parents carried children in their arms to a triage center in the parking lot. Some students looked dazed, others terrified.
schools: Officials say each campus has place of refuge from storms FROM page A1 She said, “We get their alerts year-round, whether it is severe weather in the spring or the winter. We are in very close contact with the weather service year-round on weather issues with those alerts.” Herb Youngblood, superintendent of the Abernathy Independent School District, is linked to the NWS by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio. And he also has weather observers watching the skies over Abernathy. “We have their cellphone
numbers, and they have mine. We keep in touch,” Youngblood said. The LISD also keeps a NOAA radio to listen to weather broadcasts. When a weather drill is held each spring, the LISD also tests its automated alert system. “We have the School Messenger System, which is our automated calling system. In a matter of a minute we can call all of the campuses’ land lines, and cellphones of the principals.” In case of an actual tornado, each campus has a
place of refuge. “There is a list of places they’ve been given instructions on,” Sharp said. “The police and safety department visit the principals about the safest place in each campus.” The students are instructed to avoid the open areas of gymnasiums and cafeterias. Typically, there are hallways, closet areas and other highly structured rooms in which to ride out all but the most devastating tornadoes. Youngblood has the opportunity for an even bet-
ter solution for his school: “Our middle school has a basement, so we take all of our kids to the middle school, into the basement.” There are approximately 750 students in the district, and every one of them fits into the basement area. Jody James, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service at Lubbock, said the best places are an above-ground safe room or basement. “If you don’t have that, get to an interior room on the lowest level of your
home or business. Stay away from windows. The idea is to put as many walls between you and the outside — tornadoes tend to destroy a home from the top down, and from the outside in.” Despite the recent tragedy of children who died in the tornado that hit Moore Elementary School in Oklahoma, schools in most cases provide better protection that most homes, according to Sharp. “When you have something the intensity of what they had, it’s hard to do enough. Our hearts break
for them. In those situations you do everything you can to mitigate as many of the factors as you can,” Sharp said. “We really try to stress to the parents that the kids are safer to leave them in place rather than parents being on the road or having kids in transit. “Sometimes parents are tempted to come to school and get their kids, and then they have them in an automobile, and that’s the worst place they can be.” firstname.lastname@example.org 766-8711 Follow Ray on Twitter @RayWestbrook1