The deadly tornado that leveled Moore, Okla., hasn't been the only twister to ravage a community in America's midwestern region:
- In April, a tornado ripped through Spavinaw, Okla.
- May 15: At least six are dead in the wake of 13 Texas tornadoes
- May 19: Two tornadoes wrought havoc in northwest Pottawatomie County, destroying homes and overturning vehicles
- May 19: A tornado and strong winds hit Wichita, causing roof damage and downing power lines.
- May 21: A tornado swept a path of destruction down Main Street in Mount Olive, Ill.
- May 22: Weather Service finds evidence of ten tornadoes in Missouri
The solution to saving houses, argues Andrew Graettinger, a civil engineer at the University of Alabama, is to employ methods common along hurricane-prone coastlines, using clips and straps to keep the walls tied to the roof and the foundation. These techniques were largely defined following Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and the substantive changes to the building codes were recorded by the Journal of Light Construction.
Still, there's considerable debate on whether the measures needed to resist tornadoes are financially feasible. "You can design for 250 mph winds, but you can’t design for it economically,’’ says Steve Cope, Joplin, Mo.’s building and neighborhood improvement supervisor. ‘‘It’s got to be something that can withstand the impact of a car going 250 miles an hour into a wall and roof ... To build a truly tornado-proof home, people wouldn’t be able to afford to live in it.’’
If there are questions about saving homes, however, there's little debate about the need to save lives. Fortunately, we can do that.