Resilient Oklahoma & Rebuild Moore

by Architecture for Humanity
Jul 16, 2013

Field Notes: Looking Forward to Long-Term Recovery

Since the onset of Spring tornadoes in central Oklahoma, Architecture for Humanity has been surveying and investigating the area's disaster recovery efforts in preparation for long-term reconstruction, and assessing unmet needs of the community.

Veteran Architecture for Humanity volunteer Tommy Stewart, AIA AICP LEED, has been on the ground these past weeks meeting with, surveying for and aiding Moore and the surrounding area through the first period of recovery - and preparing with them for the long-term reconstruction to come.

Through these efforts, we've gained knowledge on Moore's and the surrounding affected area's desire and preparedness to Build Back Better.

As of this posting, the affected area is still focused on the relief; few considerations have been made for the long term. At its current rate, debris removal will continue for three to four weeks as a coordinated effort, and from there proceed on an as-needed basis.

Among the committees tracking rebuilding efforts is the Long Term Recovery Committee for the May 18-June 2, 2013, Disaster. This group is made up of various organizations that represent the affected areas, including FEMA, the AARP, City and State officials, as well as various church organizations and nonprofit disaster recovery organizations.

A representative of the Marketing and Economic Development Department of Moore noted to us that they too have been consumed with the day-to-day needs of their community, and are just now beginning to think about long-term recovery.

The City of Moore has nevertheless identified several public facilities that will not be covered by insurance, FEMA, or other public funds.(See the statistics from FEMA mark the differences between damage and support following the May 20th disaster, as they lie across three counties: Northwest Cleveland County (NCC), McClain County (McCC), and Oklahoma County (OC).) We'll continue to attend recovery meetings and offer assistance as the community makes the transition from relief to reconstruction.

Uninsured Families Suffering Damages:

  • NCC – 2958
  • McCC – 15
  • OC – 2637

Total Family and Household support awarded by FEMA to date:

  • NCC – $17,371,157
  • McCC – $54,123
  • OC – $3,145,139

FEMA Verified Losses, (Individuals and Families, no commercial or institutional included):

  • NCC – $114,130,718
  • McCC – $5,100,000
  • OC – $6,911,316


The weather six weeks ago initiated what would become a series of devastating and deadly storms raking across the Oklahoma plains. On May 20th, 2013, central Oklahoma, notably Newcastle and Moore, was hit by an EF-5 tornado, killing 24, injuring 377, and affecting about 33,000 in some capacity. In addition to life lost, an estimated 13,000 structures (mostly residential) were destroyed.

The tornado touched down for about 40 minutes, cutting a 17-mile path from Newcastle to Moore, with wind speeds reaching 210 miles per hour, producing a funnel cloud that was 1.3 miles in diameter. Although Oklahoma is familiar with tornados, there has been minimal improvement in providing purpose built storm shelters to homes or community buildings, including three schools that the tornado demolished.

On May 31st two weeks after the storm in Moore, an EF5 tornado struck El Reno, Oklahoma about 25 miles west of Oklahoma City. That tornado is believed to be the widest on record in the US at 2.6 miles in diameter. Eighteen people lost their lives in that event; 115 individuals were injured.

Then on June 2nd storm chasers Tim Samaras, his son Paul and colleague Carl Young, who through the years had shared dramatic videos with television viewers and weather researchers, died when an EF3 tornado with winds reaching 165 mph turned on them. They were among 13 people who died in the storm striking Oklahoma City and its suburbs.


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Organization Information

Architecture for Humanity

Location: San Francisco, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Architecture for Humanity
Project Leader:
Yuko Okamura
San Francisco, California United States

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