UPDATE: Blake Shelton Putting Together Oklahoma Benefit Show

Moore-OK

(Updated: 05/22/13)

Blake Shelton and NBC are putting together a benefit for Oklahoma tornado victims.

Shelton told reporters about the fundraising effort after Tuesday night’s episode of “The Voice.” Shelton, an Oklahoma native, paid tribute to the thousands affected by Sunday and Monday’s tornadoes by performing an acoustic version of the hit “Over You” with wife Miranda Lambert.

He said the benefit would be held soon in nearby Oklahoma City.

At least 24 people, including nine schoolchildren, were killed Monday afternoon in Moore, Okla., when an F-5 tornado with 200 mph winds touched down for 40 minutes and destroyed entire neighborhoods.

Toby Keith, a native of Moore, also is planning a benefit. His sister’s house was hit by the tornado.

More details about both fundraising efforts will be released later.

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The Oklahoma medical examiner’s office says it has positively identified 23 of 24 people killed in the tornado that ripped through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, including 10 children. Officials still were
trying to contact eight victims’ relatives Wednesday, but released the names of 16 others:

_ Terri Long, 49

_ Megan Futrell, 29

_ Case Futrell, 4 months

_ Shannon Quick, 40

_ Sydnee Vargyas, 7 months

_ Karrina Vargyas, 4

_ Jenny Neely, 38

_ Antonia Canderaria, 9

_ Kyle Davis, 8

_ Janae Hornsby, 9

_ Sydney Angle, 9

_ Emily Conatzer, 9

_ Nicolas McCabe, 9

_ Christopher Legg, 9

_ Cindy Plumley, age unknown

_ Deanna Ward, age unknown

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The Oklahoma Insurance Department says a preliminary estimate suggests the cost of the tornado that hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore could be more than $2 billion.

Spokeswoman Calley Herth tells The Associated Press that the early tally of damages is based on visual assessments of an extensive damage zone stretching more than 17 miles and the fact that the tornado was on the ground for 40 minutes.

She says the monetary damage caused by Monday’s tornado could be greater than the $2 billion in damage from the 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., which left a smaller, three-mile trail of destruction.

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(Updated: 05/21/13)

The fire chief in Moore, Okla., says crews will search the entire community at least twice more to make sure that no survivors or victims have been overlooked.

New search and rescue teams moved in at dawn today, taking over from the 200 or so emergency responders who had worked all night, looking through blocks of homes and other structures that were destroyed by yesterday’s massive tornado.

At least 24 people were killed, including at least nine children, and those numbers are expected to climb.

Authorities initially said as many as 51 people were dead.

Some of the search-and-rescue teams have been focusing their efforts on an elementary school where the storm ripped off the roof, knocked down walls and turned the playground into a mass of twisted plastic and metal, as students and teachers huddled in hallways and bathrooms. Children from the school are among the dead, but several students were pulled alive from under a collapsed wall and other debris.

The fire chief says officials are still trying to account for a handful of children who weren’t found at the school but may have gone home early with their parents.

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¬†Hospital officials say they’ve treated more than 200 patients, including dozens of children, since a tornado ripped through suburban Oklahoma City.

About 20 patients remained at one hospital Tuesday, but it wasn’t clear how many patients remained hospitalized at another facility.

Spokeswoman Brooke Cayot (KAY’-ot) says Integris Southwest Medical Center has seen 90 patients, including five children who have been released. About 20 people remain hospitalized there.

OU Medical Center spokesman Scott Coppenbarger says 85 people, including 50 children, came to his hospital and an affiliated children’s hospital for treatment. He does not know how many have been released.

St. Anthony Hospital spokeswoman Sandra Payne says her hospital and two regional facilities have seen 35 patients, including 14 children. Thirty-two patients have been released. Three children were transferred elsewhere.

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President Barack Obama says he is instructing his disaster response team to get tornado victims in Oklahoma everything they need “right away.”

Obama calls the devastation that tore through the Oklahoma City suburbs, quote, “one of the most destructive tornados in history,” even though he said the extent of the damage is still unknown.

Obama spoke Tuesday after an Oval Office briefing on the latest developments from his disaster response team and as Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Craig Fugate was heading to Oklahoma.

Obama has declared a major disaster in Oklahoma, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts.

The president offered prayers and said there’s a long road of recovery ahead. But he said the victims won’t travel alone and will have the resources they need.

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Conservative Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn says that any additional federal aid to help tornado victims and to rebuild devastated areas of his state should be financed with cuts to other programs in the government’s $3.6 trillion budget.

Spokesman John Hart says it’s a position Coburn has consistently held regarding federal spending on disasters dating to the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City.

But federal disaster aid such as $60 billion passed earlier this year to rebuild coastal states including New York and New Jersey from Superstorm Sandy typically is approved as “emergency” spending that is simply added to the budget deficit. That may happen again if more aid is need for Oklahoma.

Federal disaster aid coffers remain flush from the infusion of Sandy aid.

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The state medical examiner’s office has revised the death toll from a tornado in an Oklahoma City suburb to 24 people, including seven children.

Spokeswoman Amy Elliot said Tuesday morning that she believes some victims were counted twice in the early chaos of the storm. Authorities said initially that as many as 51 people were dead, including 20 children.

Teams are continuing to search the rubble in Moore, 10 miles south of Oklahoma City, after the Monday afternoon tornado.

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(Updated: 05/20/13)

Casualty numbers are starting to come in from the Oklahoma City area, where a monstrous tornado has left a scene of devastation.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office says 51 people have been killed. Spokeswoman Amy Elliott says the death toll is expected to rise agains. She says children are among those killed.

Meanwhile, officials at two hospitals say they’re treating more than 140 patients, including about 70 children.

The OU Medical Center says its treating about 85 patients, including 65 children. Their conditions range from minor injuries to critical.

Integris Southwest Medical Center says nine of 57 patients being treated at that facility are listed in critical condition. Nineteen are in serious condition and 29 others are listed in fair or good condition.

Five of the patients were children who have since been treated and released.

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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says “hearts are broken” for parents wondering about the fate of their children after a tornado devastated suburban Oklahoma City and officials say the search and rescue effort will continue throughout the night.

Fallin told a Monday news conference that a center for those seeking loved ones has been set up at a church in Moore, where an afternoon tornado flattened entire neighborhoods and destroyed an elementary school with a direct hit. She says responders are working as quickly as they can to sort through the rubble.

Authorities who joined Fallin say search and rescue efforts are ongoing and will continue overnight.

The governor says the state will spare no resource in the tornado recovery and will consider using Oklahoma’s rainy day fund in the effort.

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Tornado warnings have been issued across much of the Midwest, stretching from Texas to Illinois, following a second deadly twister in as many days in the Oklahoma City area.

The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings Monday evening for several counties in southeastern Oklahoma and north-central Texas, along with parts of northwest Arkansas, Missouri, central Iowa and western Illinois.

The warnings were issued after a massive tornado tore through parts of suburban Oklahoma City, flattening entire neighborhoods with winds up to 200 mph and landing a direct blow on an elementary school in Moore.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office says dozens were killed, with the death toll expected to rise.

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President Barack Obama has called Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to express his concern about a monstrous tornado that wreaked havoc in the Oklahoma City suburbs.

The White House says Obama told the governor that he’s directed the government and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide any assistance she needs. FEMA has sent a special team to Oklahoma’s emergency operations center to help out and dispatch resources.

Obama also told Fallin to contact him directly if the federal government can provide additional help.

The White House says Obama’s homeland security team is keeping him updated on the situation.

The tornado flattened entire neighborhoods in the southern suburb of Moore with winds up to 200 mph, leaving buildings on fire and landing a direct blow to an elementary school.

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