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Article published May 21, 2013
Oklahoma tornado damage could top $2 billion
MOORE, Okla. — The cost of a massive tornado that battered an Oklahoma City suburb could be more than $2 billion, according to a preliminary official estimate announced today. Oklahoma Insurance Department spokeswoman Calley Herth said that the early damage tally is based on visual assessments of the extensive disaster zone that stretches more than 17 miles and the fact that Monday’s tornado was on the ground for 40 minutes. The financial cost of the tornado in Moore could be greater than the $2 billion in damage from the 2011 tornado that killed 158 people in Joplin, Mo., Herth said, adding that the Joplin twister left a smaller trail of destruction. Authorities have yet to say how many homes were damaged or destroyed, but an aerial view of the site shows whole neighborhoods obliterated, with gouged earth littered with splintered wood and pulverized cars. Dan Ramsey, president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, said a damage estimate in the low billions is “not surprising.” “Certainly it’s in the hundreds of millions,” Ramsey said. “I suppose seeing projections from similar disasters, it could stretch to a billion” or more. With no reports of anyone still missing, the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office announced that it has positively identified 23 of the 24 people who died in the tornado, and that 10 of those killed are children.