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Thunderstorms slow Oklahoma tornado cleanup

 Monty Montgomery walks among rubble as he prepares to clean up a friend's tornado-ravaged home Thursday, May 23, 2013, in Moore, Okla. Cleanup contin...
 Monty Montgomery surveys the scene as he prepares to clean up a friend's tornado-ravaged home Thursday, May 23, 2013, in Moore, Okla. Cleanup continu...
 Class photos still decorate a classroom wall amid the wreckage of Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children were killed earlier in the wee...
 Debris is strewn about amid the wreckage Plaza Towers Elementary, where seven children were killed earlier in the week when a tornado hit Moore, Okla...
 A teacher's classroom sign sits on a desk propping open a door amid the wreckage of Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children were killed ...
 Mourners leave a funeral service for Antonia Calendaria, 9, a student at Towers Plaza Elementary school who was killed by Monday's tornado Thursday, ...
 Part of a wall  remains standing amid the wreckage of Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children were killed earlier in the week when a tor...

APTOPIX Oklahoma Tornado

Monty Montgomery walks among rubble as he prepares to clean up a friend's tornado-ravaged home Thursday, May 23, 2013, in Moore, Okla. Cleanup contin...

APTOPIX Oklahoma Tornado

Monty Montgomery surveys the scene as he prepares to clean up a friend's tornado-ravaged home Thursday, May 23, 2013, in Moore, Okla. Cleanup continu...

Oklahoma Tornado

Class photos still decorate a classroom wall amid the wreckage of Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children were killed earlier in the wee...

Oklahoma Tornado

Debris is strewn about amid the wreckage Plaza Towers Elementary, where seven children were killed earlier in the week when a tornado hit Moore, Okla...

Oklahoma Tornado

A teacher's classroom sign sits on a desk propping open a door amid the wreckage of Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children were killed ...

Oklahoma Tornado

Mourners leave a funeral service for Antonia Calendaria, 9, a student at Towers Plaza Elementary school who was killed by Monday's tornado Thursday, ...

Oklahoma Tornado

Part of a wall remains standing amid the wreckage of Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children were killed earlier in the week when a tor...

A band of thunderstorms battered the Oklahoma City area Thursday, slowing cleanup operations in the town where a tornado killed 24 people and destroyed thousands of homes this week.
The first of the funerals, for a 9-year-old girl killed at a Moore elementary school that took a direct hit in Monday's storm, was scheduled for Thursday morning. A family photo showed the girl, Antonia Candelaria, beaming with a big smile and wearing a white sun hat.
Early estimates indicate the tornado caused more than $2 billion of damage in Moore. Whole subdivisions in the fast-growing community of 56,000 people were destroyed. Authorities estimated that as many as 13,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and 33,000 people were affected _ an especially traumatic toll for a city that had already suffered three other tornados since 1998.
Two elementary schools were hit _ one was leveled _ by Monday's tornado. Candelaria was one of seven children who perished at the Plaza Towers Elementary School, a one story building with barely a wall left standing. Altogether, 10 children were killed in the storm, including two infants.
The medical examiner reported that six of the children who died at Plaza Towers suffocated after being buried under a mass of bricks, steel and other materials as the building collapsed. A seventh child who died there, 8-year-old Kyle Davis, was killed instantly by an object _ perhaps a large piece of stone or a beam _ that fell on the back of his neck.
Thursday's thunderstorms produced hail, heavy rain and high winds in the morning. A flash flood warning was also in effect. The National Weather Service said more severe storms were forecast for late afternoon and at night, and that more tornados were a possibility.
The weather was hampering cleanup and recovery efforts that had just begun to accelerate now that all of the missing have been accounted for. Residents were only formally allowed back into the damage zone on Wednesday afternoon, where they picked through enormous piles of debris.
Shayne Patteson was among them, moving around the ruins of his three-bedroom home. All that was left was the tiny area where his wife hunkered down under a mattress to protect their three children when a tornado packing winds of at least 200 mph (320 kph) slammed through his neighborhood.
Patteson vowed to rebuild, likely in the same place, but said next time he will have an underground storm shelter.
"That is the first thing that will be going into the design of the house, is the storm shelter and the garage," he said as he looked around piles of bricks and plywood where their home once stood.


Updated : 2021-05-16 02:50 GMT+08:00